June 2011

This Week in the World of Conflict… June 27th- July 3rd, 2011.

Hello all! Hope all is well!

I wrote this post several weeks ago, and although it is now slightly out of date, I thought better late than never since there are several interesting links to be found here.

Peace!

Rebecca

  • The head of UN peacekeeping operations, Alain Le Roy of France will step down from his post after his term expires in August. Le Roy has been the head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations for three years, and has expressed his wish to devote more time to his family in France.
  • The IMF elected French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to the position of managing director on Tuesday, replacing scandalized Dominique Strauss-Khan (DSK). Meanwhile, the DSK case has taken an unsurprising turn, as reports attacking the credibility and personal life of his accuser began to surface, with allegations ranging from her being involved in prostitution to lying on immigration forms about a gang-rape causing her to flee Guinea. I’ll just reiterate two points here I think are important: one– a person is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty (why I believe there should be some media restraint until a verdict is issued); and two– even if a person has engaged in prostitution or has lied in the past, they can still be raped or abused and the typical characterizations and credibility attacks made in rape cases is something that needs to be seriously examined. DSK was released from house arrest and hopes were lifted among the French Socialist party of his possible return to the 2012 Presidential race, after his accuser’s “credibility” was tarnished by the released personal information regarding her past.
  • The OSCE called on all European and Central Asian states to join the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. Forty-six members states are currently party to the convention, though Armenia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Polan, the Russian Federation, the USA and Uzbekistan are not.
  • A recent article I read regarding the pacification of a troop of baboons and other peaceful primate species raises questions about the inherence of violence in humans. Hopefully, humanity will not need to have all our aggressive members of society die of tuberculosis from eating in a garbage dump for us to achieve peace.
  • A key jihadist Internet forum was kicked off the Internet after apparently being hacked. The cyber attack appears to have hit not only the website, but also the server of what counterterrorism experts call “a key al-Qaeda propaganda forum”.
  • UN SG Ban Ki-moon welcomed a meeting of five nuclear non-proliferation treaty States in Paris on Thursday, where they were to discuss transparency, verification, and confidence building measures. The US, China, Russia, the UK and France all attended the meeting.
  • A new article entitled Dilemmas and Difficulties in Peace and Justice: Considerations for Policymakers and Mediators discusses emerging trends relating to peace and justice during peace processes .
  • The Collaborative for Development Action (CDA) came out with a new issue paper that highlights the perspectives of aid in conflict afflicted-areas .
  • The US Institute of Peace (USIP) came out with a new article that discusses improving the evaluation of peacebuilding programs, in an effort to hold organizations accountable for using good practice and avoiding bad practices, while the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre released an article on measuring the effectiveness of peacebuilding operations. USIP also came out with an article that discusses trends in communication in peacebuilding ; the various forms of communication used to prevent conflict, improve early warning, monitor peace and promote peacebuilding in the post-conflict.
  • National Geographic came up with a fantastic article and stunning graphics that demonstrate the dwindling food varieties over the past century. Food insecurity is a major conflict trigger and the mass extinction of our food heritage is concerning to our future as humans.
  • An interesting article discussed a recent economic study that found that though real national income in the US had increased, aggregate real wages and salaries rose by only a meagre amount (and in some cases actually declined), while corporate profits soared. The study suggests that since 2009, 88% of income growth went directly to corporate profits and that just 1% went to wages.
  • Both Al Jazeera and the British Guardian newspapers published stories about water wars, with detailed maps showing major conflict zones. Studies suggest that as many as 1.2 billion people live in areas of physical water scarcity, and that by 2030, 47% of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress.
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This Week in European Conflict… June 25th-July 1st, 2011.

  • EU leaders agreed on Friday to tighten migration safeguards, in a controversial response to an influx of migrants fleeing North Africa’s upheaval. The refugee crisis sparked a debate over the extent that EU governments should share the responsibility for immigrants arriving elsewhere in the bloc.
  • Poland celebrates as it takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union for the first time since joining the bloc in 2004. Their priorities for the six month term include building relations with the eastern and southern neighbours, encouraging economic growth and promoting enlargement of the bloc.
  • EU leaders gave the go-ahead for Croatia to join the EU in July 2013 on Friday, though reform slip-ups could result in delayed ratifying of the accession treaty by several EU governments who insisted that the completion of talks remain open-ended. This opened the possibility of other Balkan governments to join, should they go forward with proper reform efforts.
  • On Sunday, the deputy PM in Greece warned that austerity measures may not be passed by parliament though lawmakers approved the package aimed at avoiding a national default amid angry protests outside the parliament on Wednesday. The plan involves 28 billion euros of spending cuts and increased taxes, along with sell-offs of state property. On Tuesday, police fired tear gas to disperse a small group of youths throwing sticks and bottles during an otherwise peaceful protest in Athens. On Wednesday, protesters and police continued to clash , amid allegations of police brutality.
  • One of the two opposition parties in Armenia announced that it will continue to boycott the National Assembly sessions to protest against the President’s tightening grip on power. Five deputies walked out February 28th following an agreement that committed to a new power sharing agreement with the President’s junior coalition partners.
  • On Saturday, former PM Tymoshenko of Ukraine refused to stand to address the court and asserted that the charges that she is working against the country’s interests are part of a wider political plot. On Sunday, a judge ruled that the case would continue on Wednesday.
  • Police in Russia arrested over a dozen gay rights activists taking part in a Gay Pride rally over the weekend. On Wednesday, President Medvedev ordered his cabinet to prepare a schedule to sell its controlling stakes in some key state companies, expecting to yield some $30 billion over the next three years. A court house in Ingushetia was attacked with a grenade launcher and an explosive device on Friday, though the incident resulted in no causalties.
  • On Tuesday, Russia announced it would restore power supplies to Belarus by July 1st after receivign a late payment from the government. The Belorussian government is facing a mounting economic crisis and currently owes some $42 million for electricity supplied for the last three months. More than 150 people were detained following demonstrations on Wednesday where some 1,000 people walked slowly through the city and signaled their discontent by clapping their hands. It is the fifth straight week of Wednesday evening demonstrations against the authoritarian government.
  • On Thursday, Germany‘s lower house of parliament approved the government’s plan to shut down the country’s nuclear power plants by 2022.

This Week in Middle Eastern Conflict… June 24th-30th, 2011.

  • A court in Oman sentenced 55 people to prison on Tuesday for taking part in protests demanding jobs. The accused were found guilty of offences including robbery, unlawful gathering, and vanalising government departments. The protests happened between March and May.
  • Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon announced last Friday that two of its members have confessed to working for the CIA, but that they had not compromised the group or its military capabilities. Nasrallah accused the US of working on Israel’s behalf, though the US embassy denied all allegations. On Thursday, the UN backed court investigating the 2005 assassination of former PM Hariri delivered four arrest warrants, though the names of the accused were not yet released. Many suggest that they may name senior Hezbollah members.
  • On Thursday, it was announced that an ally of President Ahmadinejad, made deputy foreign minister last week in Iran, had been arrested, accused of corruption and forced to quit after protest by parliamentarians; and US, British and French calls for the release of a UN report detailing alleged sanctions violations was prevented from being published by Russia and China. On Saturday, Ayatollah Khamenei accused the US of supporting terrorism, pointing to the US drone strikes that have killed many across Pakistan and Afghanistan and alleging that the US, Israel and Europe are the worst culprits of terrorism around the world. On Tuesday, Britain’s foreign secretary announced that Iran had conducted covert tests of ballistic missiles alonside a 10 day program of public military maneuvers. Iran responded by announcing that their missiles can target US bases in the Persian Gulf and any part of Israeli territory.
  • On Thursday, three bombs killed at least 23 people and wounded over 100 after they exploded in a busy market in southwest Baghdad, Iraq; two people were killed and 10 wounded in a bomb exlosion in south Baghdad; a roadside bomb in north-eastern Baghdad wounded three guards; a roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol killed two military personnel south of Mosul; gunmen killed a civilian near his house in eastern Mosul; a sticky bomb wounded the driver of a minibus in Kirkuk; an Iraqi soldier was wounded by a flashlight stuffed with explosives southwest of Kirkuk; and gunmen shot and wounded an employee of Sunni Endowment, an organization charged with managing Sunni religious sites in Taji. On Friday, gunmen killed a policeman and his wife in the house in Baiji; a pediatrician was kidnapped from a clinic in Kirkuk; a international finance expert working as a contractor for USAID was killed in a roadside bomb attack that wounded two others in Baghdad. On Saturday, Iraqi police defused a small bomb near an oil well northwest of Kirkuk; gunmen shot and wounded an off-duty soldier in Kirkuk; gunmen opened fire at an Iraqi security checkpoint, killing two soldiers in Mosul; gunmen shot dead an employee of the Electricity Ministry in southeastern Baghdad; a roadside bomb wounded two civilians in northeastern Baghdad; three Iraqi military counter-terrorism troops and a suspected al-Qaeda militant were killed in a shootout in Baiji; and gunmen shot dead a policeman in west-central Baghdad. On Sunday, two US service members were killed in northern Iraq; gunmen killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded another at an army checkpoint in western Mosul; a militant was killed while planting a roadside bomb northwest of Baghdad; oner person was killed in a bomb explosion near Hilla; at least 12 were wounded and two possibly killed in a suicide bomb attack at a police station north of Baghdad; a bicycle loaded with explosives wounded two security guards and two civilians near Kirkuk; a sticky bomb killed a police lieutenant colonel north of Baghdad; and an Iraqi court sentenced the wife of a slain al-Qaeda leader to life in prison for her rold in aiding insurgents’ activities. On Monday, a sticky bomb was dismantled by experts before it exploded in Abu Ghraib; a roadside bomb wounded three in Baquba; a car bomb killed three and wounded four policemen near Mosul; and gunmen shot dead a man in his car in eastern Mosul. On Tuesday, a roadside bomb wounded the mayor of Baquba and two of his guards; a sticky bomb killed a government-backed Sunni militia leader in Abu Ghraib; and police found the body of an unidentified man near Kirkuk. On Wednesday, three US soldiers were reportedly killed in southern Iraq, making June the deadliest month for Americans in the country in two years.
  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern on Thursday about the long prison sentences of activists and opposition leaders in Bahrain following earlier protests, while the military court said it would move all the protest-linked trials, alleged to involve at least 400 people, it had not started to civilian court. On Friday, a top Shi’ite cleric said that a national dialogue due to start the following week looked set to fail. On Tuesday, the government announced that Saudi Arabia would withdraw most of its security forces from the country, where they had helped quell protests in March. On Wednesady, the king ordered an independent fact-finding mission to establish whether protesters’ human rights were abused during the crackdown earlier this year, though some suspect that the declaration is intended to exonerate rulers and allow them to continue abuses on opposition supporters. University of Bahrain students were recently told that they could face expulsion if they don’t sign a loyalty pledge to the King and are appealing to human rights group to take up their close.
  • Dozens marched wearing white shrouds in eastern Saudi Arabia, demanding basic rights and the release of prisoners. The activists are said to have suspended protests in April following government promises to start a dialogue and free detainees. On Wednesday, at least five Saudi women were taken into custody accused of defying the men-only driving rule and a senior Saudi diplomat warned that if Iran comes close to developing a nuclear weapon, that would compel Saudi Arabia to possibly do the same.
  • The UN announced on Friday that it would be sending human rights investigators for a 10 day mission to Yemen the following week to access the situation after months of unrest; while the Security Council finally came to an unanimous statement after two months of disagreement that voiced its “grave concern” at the situation; tens of thousands protested in Sanaa in opposition of the President; a car bomb killed five in Aden; and Yemen’s Interior Ministry published the names of 43 members of the opposition that it accused of blowing up oil pipelines and attacks on power stations, causing a fuel crisis and power cuts. On Saturday, authorities detained the director of a prison for questioning over the escape of 63 al Qaeda inmates earlier in the week. On Sunday, it was announced that President Saleh would soon be well enough to return to Yemen and that he would make a media appearance within a couple days while tens of thousands marched in Sanaa against him and three soldiers were killed in clashes with jihadist militants in Zinjibar. On Monday, security forces said they had foiled a planned al Qaeda attack in Aden, capturing six insurgents and that President Saleh was expected to speak on state tv on Tuesday. On Tuesday, government officials announced that they may launch a military operation to secure and repair its main oil pipeline that has been shut since mid-March. On Wednesday, at least four people were killed and 12 others wounded after a Yemeni air force jet mistakenly bombed a bus transporting civilians in a southern city; fighters in Zinjibar reportedly took over a football stadium, attacking government troops and killing at least 26 troops and 17 fighters; the PM announced that President Saleh was so severely injured in the assassination attemp that it is uncertain when he will return, while more than 300 government soldiers reportedly defected.
  • Palestinian protesters in the West Bank rammed a bulldozer on Friday, days after the Israeli army said it would finally comply with a four-year old court order to reposition the fence that keeps the Palestinians from accessing farmland. Israel has built a concrete wall several hundred metres back from the fence, which is set to become the new barrier. On Tuesday, Israeli troops began to dismantle part of the barrier after years of violent weekly protests, but protesters say the move falls short of their demands and still leaves the Palestinians without access to some 50 acres of their land. The World Court in the Hague ruled the barrier was illegal in 2004. Israel also deployed an Iron Dome Rocket interceptor near Haifa on Tuesday, highlighting it possible use in any future hostilities with Lebanon. US Secretary Clinton warned activists against plans to send a new aid flotilla to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza, saying it was “irresponsible and provocative” and that there were better ways of getting assistance in to Gaza. Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman said the activists were seeking “confrontation and blood” and that there were “hard core of terror activists” among the participants, thought the US participants announced on their website that their intentions were peaceful and that they would set sail without weapons or threat of force. The flotilla will include European MPs, a former CIA analyst a Holocaust survivor, professors and authors. The Israeli government warned journalists that they could be banned from entering the country for 10 years if they travel aboard the aid flotilla and that they would have their equipment seized, though some questioned the constitutionality of the warning. Later in the week, activists claimed that Israel had sabotaged a second ship that was to go with the flotilla. On Sunday, a powerful explosion ripped a 2 metre hole through the wall surrounding the UN building, with no reports of casualties in Gaza City. On Monday, Palestinian delegates announced their intentions to do rounds of nearly a dozen countries who have not yet endorsed recognition for the Palestinian state at the UN. On Wednesday, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed a first draft law requiring Palestinians whose homes are destroyed by Israeli forces to pay the government for the demolition costs. On Friday, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel group was detained in London while on a speaking tour for allegedly entering the country illegally, despite the organization’s insistence that he entered through formal and legal channels.
  • On Friday, it was reported that police snipers in Syria shot dead at least three protesters in Damascus, though other reports suggested that at least 15 were killed and some 200 arrested as thousands demonstrated in the city. State news reported that tens of thousands demonstrated in Damascus in support of Assad’s comprehensive reform process. On Saturday, it was reported that security forces shot dead five civilians during funerals which turned into protests and that other people were killed during home raids. On Sunday, the military was reportedly moving on border towns near the Turkish and Lebanese borders. On Monday, some 200 regime critics and intellectuals were to meet in Damascus to discuss strategies for a peaceful transition to democracy, which the US announced as “progress”. On Tuesday, exiled Syrian opposition figures urged Russia to withdraw its support for Assad and try to persuade him to resign, while Syrian tanks reportedly shelled a hill region in the northwest and many were arbitrarily arrested in Raqqa province. On Thursday, it was reported that a two-day seige in the northwestern area of Jabal al-Zawiya resulted in at least 19 deaths.

UPDATE:

  • I only just found this article– so I’m adding it after the fact. There were allegations this week that prison guards in Iran were giving out condoms to criminals in jail and encouraging them to systematically rape young opposition activists. Iranian officials ignored the allegations and have previously denied any claims of rape inside jails.

This Week in Conflict in the Americas… June 23rd-29th, 2011.

Special thanks to Michael Southcott for his submissions.

  • President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela spent nearly two weeks  recovering from surgery in Cuba after swelling in his pelvis and has been out of public sight since, causing much speculation  that he may be seriously ill since he was originally scheduled to return to Venezuela after a few days. On Friday, the incredibly public and loquacious leader posted for the first time on Twitter , but made no note about his health. State television reported on Saturday that the standoff  at the Rodeo prison complex was continuing into its second week, with at least 29 dead and many refusing to leave the prison until the National Guard were removed. On Monday, the opposition demanded information  from the government on Chavez’s health and bond prices rallied on speculation that he could be seriously ill. On Thursday, it was reported  that a regional summit that Chavez was to host scheduled for July 5th had been suspended, fueling more rumour and suspiscion that the President may be more ill than the government is admitting.
  • At least eight suspected drug traffickers were reportedly killed  during a raid in a slum area in Rio, Brazil between Wednesday and Thursday. Exchanges of gunfire are said to have lasted several hours, with police later discovering rifles, pistols and grenades.
  • The government of Mexico condemned the fatal shooting  of a Mexican man on Tuesday who was allegedly throwing stones at US agents across the Tijuana-San Diego fence. The Mexican foreign ministry called the shooting “disproportionate”.  An independent study  by the think tank Mexico Evalua said that a six-fold increase in security spending in the past five years has done little to stop the rising carjackings, kidnappings and other violent crimes within the country, suggesting that an alternate approach might be necessary.
  • On Friday, New York became the sixth and most populous US state to allow gay  marriage. State senators voted 33-29 to approve marriage equality legislation.  A new NPR report detailed that the US military spends an outrageous $20.2 billion  annually on air conditioning alone in Iraq and Afghanistan at great risk to the troops tasked with delivering it (more than 1,000 have died in fuel convoys), an amount that exceeds NASA’s budget, and the amount the G8 has pledged to help in Egypt and Tunisia. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan have so far cost  the US $3.7 trillion, and are expected to top $4.4 trillion; more than 224,000 people have died, 365,000 have been wounded and some 7.8 million have been displaced, according to a recent study by Brown University. Human Rights Watch called on the US  to suspend military assistance to countries that use child soldiers, including Burma/Myanmar, Chad, the DRC, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. On Tuesday, a US Senate panel approved a resolution  formally authorizing the continued participation of Americans in the NATO-led military intervention in Libya, though they banned the introduction of ground troops.
  • At least three people died in clashes between students and police over plans for  a new university in central Peru on Wednesday. On Saturday, at least five  people were killed and more than 30 injured in clashes between police and anti-mining demonstrators striking over a silver-mining contract given to a Canadian corporation. The demonstrators tried to take over a commercial airport, and occupied the runway  at the Juliaca airport in the Puno region. The government later revoked the contract. The President-elect announced that he wants to pass  a bill that would require the country to adhere to the UN treaty on indigenous peoples, while the mining ministry issued a rule over the weekend requiring companies to consult with the indigenous peoples before building new mines or oil projects.
  • President Jose Mujica, of Uruguay, has allowed  the courts to investigate human rights abuses that have been committed under previous military rule during their reign between 1973 and 1985. An estimated 200 people were kidnapped and murdered by military forces during that time period.
  • A court in Ecuador found six police  officers guilty of crimes against the security of the state, following the September protest that resulted in the President being forcibly detained. Sentencing will take place at a later date.
  • On Wednesday, a senior police officer in Columbia was killed  and three others injured by an explosive device in the north-west. FARC members are accused of burning two buses and a lorry and then detonating the explosives once police arrived.
  • A court in Guatemala has thrown out  the former first lady, Sadra Torres’ bid for the presidency, after she divorced her husband in an attempt to skirt a law that prevents family members of the President from taking power. The first round of elections is scheduled for September 11th.

 

This Week in Asian Conflict… June 22nd-28th, 2011.

Hello all! Hope all is well!

Still having difficulty adding links here, but hopefully I will have it worked out by tomorrow. In the meantime, you can access a version with all the links here.
Special thanks to Michael Southcott for his submissions this week!

Peace!
Rebecca

• On Friday, suspected insurgents killed two civilians and wounded another four in a triple bombing attack in Thailand, near the Malaysian border. Thailand faces an election July 3rd, in a vote that the opposition is expected to win away from the ruling Democrat Party.
• Authorities in Malaysia have accused 30 detained opposition members of conspiring to overthrow the government and to revive communist ideologies. The activists, who call the allegations ludicrous, were arrested before a banned political rally where they planned to fight to introduce transparent voting procedures to prevent what they call manipulation of election results by the ruling party to preserve its nearly 54 year rule.
• The UN backed war crimes trial of the four most senior surviving members of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime has commenced this week in Phnom Penh. All four defendants have denied the charges against them, and are expected to enter not guilty pleas.
• Conservative Nepal has opened its first ever shelter for ostracized gays, lesbians and transgender people, alongside an adjoining hospice that provides shelter for those living with HIV/AIDs who have been abandoned by their families. Although there are no laws specifically against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders exist, “unnatural sex” is punishable by up to one year in jail.
• A Kachin women’s organization in Myanmar/Burma accused the military of using sexual violence extensively in their offensive against ethnic Kachin separatists in the north of the country. On Friday, four explosions rocked the capital and two other towns, causing many injuries, but no reported deaths. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks.
• China and Vietnam both pledged on Sunday to resolve their maritime dispute over the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations without foreign intervention following talks between China’s foreign affairs chief and Vietnam’s vice foreign minister, though an Australian think tank warned that the risk of war in Asia was growing. China released Hu Jia, a prominent dissident on Sunday after serving a three and a half year sentence for “inciting subversion”, and is now reportedly banned from talking to the media.
• Two men were killed and 15 wounded in a bomb attack in a restaurant on Saturday on Mindanao Island in the Phillipines. President Aquino ordered security forces to investigate the attack that they believed coud be a tactic to threaten peace talks with separatist guerrillas.
• On Friday, India and Pakistan issued a joint statement announcing they have agreed to try to ease mutual fears about their nuclear arsenals after what were deemed successful talks between the two countries’ diplomats. The officials also announced they would try to improve trade and travel across the ceasefire line dividing disputed Kashmir.
• Fifteen suspected militants were killed and 8 wounded in a clash between rival militant groups in the northwest Orakzai region of Pakistan on Saturday; a low intensity bomb exploded near the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Karachi, with no injuries or damage; and at least 12 were killed in an attack on a police station in the northwest, thought to be perpetrated by a Talibani husband and wife suicide team, dressed in burqas and heavily armed. On Sunday, a bomb planted outside a police station in eastern Pakistan wounded four policemen. On Monday, a suspected US drone missile killed 8 suspected militants in Wana; another drone strike on a Taliban training centre killed 13 suspected militants; gunmen attacked and killed a Pakistani Taliban commander in North Waziristan; and the main coalition partner in the government announced it had quit the government, citing the “dictatorial” and “brutal” approach of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
• Armenia and Azerbaijan failed to agree to a framework document to set the stage for a resolution over Nagorno-Karabakh on Friday, increasing the risk of new war in the Caucasus region. On Saturday, the two sides blamed each other for the failure, though they both pledged to continue talks. On Sunday, Azerbaijan held its biggest military parade since the fall of the Soviet Union. On Tuesday, an Armenia military official said that his country is not intimidated by Azerbijan’s ongoing military buildup.
• On Thursday, a court in Bangladesh sentenced the younger son of the former PM Zia to six years in prison for laundering $2.7 million received as kickbacks from foreign companies. Many fear the verdict could fuel street protests by those who say the charges are politically motivated.
• On Wednesday, at least six Afghan police were killed in an attack on a checkpoint in Ghazni, Afghanistan; while another four officiers were killed by a roadside bomb on their way to the scene; and US President Obama announced his plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from the country by the end of the year, and another 20,000 by the end of next summer, with Hamid Karzai welcoming the decision and assuring his troops would be ready to take over. On Thursday, an ISAF service member was killed in an insurgent attack in Kabul; a special court set up by Karzai threw out results in about a quarter of the seats in the parliamentary assembly, raising fears of a constitutional crisis; Britain announced it too was in contact with Taliban insurgents, alongside the Americans in an attempt to build future peace talks; the Taliban called the US plan to withdraw droops symbolic and warned of more bloodshed if they didn’t all immediately withdraw; and Afghani authorities complained to Pakistan for a second time about its shelling of Afghan villages that resulted in the killing of four children this week. On Friday, a suicide bomber killed six people and wounded two in an attack on a group of policemen in eastern Kunar province (later reported as 10 killed, with 24 wounded); France announced it would bring home hundreds of soldiers between now and the end of 2012; Spain announced it would withdraw 10% of its troops in the first half of next year, 40% by the first half of 2013 and all of its troops by 2014; and MPs unseated in Thursday’s court decision threatened to call for protests, including blocking the country’s roads. On Saturday, a suicide bomber killed more than 30 people outside a hospital in Logar province, the victims were mostly those in the materinty ward; two ISAF service members were killed in separate attacks in Kabul; an ISAF helicopter crashed near Kabul, with no reported injuries; and 183 of the 190 lawmakers who attended parliament voted to fire the five most senior judicial officials over the firing of 62 MPs unseated in Thursday’s court decision, creating a political crisis. On Sunday, two ISAF service members were killed in a roadside bomb attack in Kabul; an eight year old girl was killed when a bomb in a bag she was alledgely given to carry by Taliban insurgents exploded; an ISAF service member was killed in an attack by insurgents in Kabul; and a remotely detonated bomb wounded 8 in Ghazni. On Monday, the central bank Governor announced he was resigning from his post because he feared for his life following his role in investigating a scandal surrounding Kabulbank, while the government said he had not resigned but rather was trying to escape prosecution over his own role in the scandal; and a former security contractor for Blackwater Worldwide was sentenced to 30 months in prison after being convicted of manslaughter in the 2009 death of an Afghani man in Kabul. On Tuesday, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and two other militants were captured during a combined Afghan and ISAF mission in Kabul; two ISAF service members died after separate insurgent attacks in Kabul; at least 5 insurgents were killed during a combined Afghan/ISAF security operation in Nimroz province; insurgents burnt down an elementary school in Nangarhar province; an anti-personnel mine killed two Afghan women and wounded a child in Kandahar; the government issued an arrest warrant for the central bank Governor who previously said he was resigning and Kabul began pursuing talks with international donors for foreign aid after a breakdown in discussions with the IMF left millions of dollars in limbo. A 46-page study by International Crisis Group discusses the problems of rampant corruption in the country that is only getting worse, and how the billions of international aid dollars have only brought wealthy officials and insurgents together to create more violence.
• Two journalists in Uzbekistan have been temporarily detained and fined after trying to begin a hunger strike outside the Presidential palace to protest censorship. On Thursday, a court handed out six and seven year jail sentences to a group of men accused of taking part in the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir group. Uzbek border guards have been accused of shooting dead at least 13 people who were crossing into the country from Kyrgystan over the past two months, though Uzbek officials say they only fire on those crossing illegally and smugglers who disregard orders from the guards.
• On Thursday, some 40 soccer fans were detained in Dushanbe, Tajikistan for rioting after their team’s victory in the country’s top soccer league. This is the second such incident involving soccer fans in the past 10 days. On Monday, the head of the Council of Islamic Scholars said that a special Islamic education program for children is being planned to quell criticism over a draft law banning children from entering a mosque.

This Week in African Conflict… June 21st-27th, 2011.

Hello, hope all is well!

For some reason, my blog functions have changed and there seems to be a bit of a glitch when adding up links. I’m just getting over malaria (again!), am having very sporadic internet lately, and am extremely frustrated trying to reinsert them all manually, so I’m just going to leave it as is for today. There is a version of the same post with all the included links posted here. Hopefully, I will get this glitch figured out before tomorrow’s post.

Peace!
Rebecca

• More than 500 international NGOs delivered a petition to the G20’s agricultural ministers during a two-day meeting in Paris calling for a halt to land grabbing in Africa under the guise of “responsible agricultural investment”. Land occupied by peasants, pastoralists, herders, etc. are being converted into massive agribusiness operations by private investors who want to produce food supplies or agro-fuels for international markets.

• Two videos were released in Zimbabwe depicting the ruling ZANU PF party using physical and psychological violence to intimidate people in rural areas. Despite denials over the years that they do not use violence as a political tool, MP Edward Raradza is shown doing exactly that in the footage. A row broke out this week over reports that Zimbabwe had been approved by the Congolese representative chair in the Kimberley Process (KP) to sell diamonds from its rich Marange mines, without the consensus required by the KP. On Thursday, a top general said PM Tsvangirai was a security threat fronting Western interests, justifying military involvement in politics. On Friday, police arrested Tsvangirai ally and government minister, Jameson Timba, on charges of undermining President Mugabe’s authority, after he reportedly told reporters that Mugabe had lied about a regional summit on Zimbabwe, as it is a criminal offense to insult the President in the country. By Sunday, the Harare High Court had ordered his release during a special hearing, calling it a “violation of his rights”, as he “was not informed of the charges he was facing”.

• The Somali Transitional Federal Government announced that it is not in favour of having specialized courts in other countries for trying Somali piracy suspects, and prefers that such a court be established in Somalia. There are currently more than 1,000 suspected pirates in detention in 20 countries. On Thursday, acting PM Abdiweli Mohamed Ali was appointed as the new full time PM by the President, following the ousting of the former PM last week; while an unidentified aircraft attacked an insurgent base in southern Somalia, wounding a number of al- Shabaab fighters. It was not immediately clear who was behind the strike, but US aircraft have attacked in previous years.

• At least 10 people were killed and several wounded on Saturday in northeast Kenya following clashes over control of grazing land and water sources. The area is drought-afflicted and has been plagued with frequent clashes over resources in the past few years. The UNHCR expressed concern about a dramatic rise in new refugee arrivals from Somalia over the last couple weeks into northern Kenya that topped 20,000 people.

• Boko Haram was accused of another attack at a bank and a police station in Katsina state, Nigeria on Monday. Five policemen and one civilian were reportedly killed after 12 suspects stormed the bank premises with explosives, and then forced their way into the police station to release detainees. On Sunday, three separate bomb explosions thought to have been perpetrated by Boko Haram were reported to have killed at least 25 and wounded many others in the northeast. A new report discussed the requirement of DNA testing as part of a $75 million Pfizer compensation settlement in Kano State, where Pfizer’s drug tests killed 11 children and left several more permanently injured in 1996. Many of the victims do not understand what DNA testing is, and fear it is another attempt by the company to use them in a drug trial, resulting in them abandoning their compensation claims.

• On Tuesday, NATO reported it had lost contact with one of its unmanned helicopters over Libya but denied a Libyan state television report that said one of its attack helicopters had gone down; a senior rebel leader arrived in China to discuss options for resolution of the crisis; and the Libyan government reported that 19 civilians were killed in a NATO air strike on the home of one of Gaddafi’s top officials. On Thursday, the NATO chief slapped down a call from Italy for a suspension of hostilities and tried to reassure wavering members that Gaddafi can be beaten; while the UK announced that their military operations in Libya have cost around $420 million. On Friday, American lawmakers in the House of Representatives rejected a resolution that would grant congressional consent for American involvement in Libya for a year, and then participated in a vote to prevent the US military from participating in strike missions, that was ultimately defeated. Also on Friday, Gaddafi released dozens of rebel supporters, allowing them to sail back to Benghazi, and 110 Tripoli residents trapped in the east would return to the capital, in a move that could mark the beginning of broader talks; nineteen police and army officers arrived as refugees in Tunisia; and a top US admiral confirmed that NATO forces are trying to kill Gaddafi, and that the need for ground troops after the leader falls is anticipated. On Saturday, NATO announced its missiles had hit a site used to stockpile military supplies and vehicles near Brega while Libyan state media said 15 civilians had been killed in the attacks; two explosions were reportedly heard in Tripoli as jets flew over the city; and four members of the Libyan national soccer team, alongside 13 other football figures, have defected to the rebel side. On Sunday, rebels engaged in fierce firefights with government forces as the front line moved to about 80 km south-west of Tripoli; the AU announced that Gaddafi had agreed to stay out of negotiations to end the conflict; and the Libyan government renewed its offer to hold a vote on whether Gaddafi should stay in power. On Monday, the ICC issued a warrant calling for the arrest of Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam to stand trial on charges of torturing and killing civilians.

• The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) called upon Mozambique to stop deporting Somali and Ethiopian asylum-seekers this week, after the government had deported some 59 Somalis and 34 Ethiopians to Tanzania. The UNHCR also reported that some asylum seekers had faced brutality by police or border officials, with some being stripped of clothing and belongings and left at deserted islands along the border.

• The ruling ANC party in South Africa is watering down proposed secrecy laws that proposed mandatory jail terms for possessing or publishing “secret” information of the government. The revision calls for a narrowing of the definitions of what could be classified, after opponents of the bill argued it would let bent official hide misdemeanours by making sensitive information difficult to obtain and by threatening journalists or whistleblowers with up to 25 years in jail.

• At least 170 people were reportedly raped in a mass attack in Fizi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by ex-rebels who recently deserted the army. Troops from the same group were recently convicted of raping at least 50 women in the same area on New Year’s Day. A report by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting found that many widows in the DRC are being deprived of their legal right to inherit property from their late husbands, while the land and assets are being transferred to the family of the late husband instead, leaving many in a desperate state.

• Alleged improvements in security in Chad in recent months have allowed many IDPs to return home, though some fragile conditions in the east, limited presence of local authorities, and lack of basic social services in some areas are hampering some of the effort. The Chadian government is reportedly taking steps to create the necessary conditions for return, local integration or settlement elsewhere in the country, with the intent of ending internal displacement by December 2011.

• Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse several hundred anti-government demonstrators in Dakar, Senegal on Thursday, who were protesting against the President’s attempt to change the constitution to reduce the minimum percentage of votes required to win the Presidency in the first round of elections to 25% (from over 50%). By the afternoon, President Wade had backed down, and completely withdrew the proposed bill, but protesters continued to clash with police over remaining clauses, such as the establishment of the position of vice president, that had yet to be withdrawn. By Friday, reports were coming out that suggested rivals and critics of President Wade were set to intensify their campaign to block him from standing in next year’s election, seeing as he has already served two terms as President. Constitutional changes in 2001, following his assent to power in 2000, made it so that Wade’s first term didn’t count, making him eligible to run again in 2012.

• On Thursday, ICC prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo said that forces loyal to ousted leader Gbagbo in Cote d’Ivoire, as well as those backing current President Ouattara, committed war crimes in the post-election violence where at least 3,000 were killed and 520 arbitrarily detained. The UN announced that the former rebels loyal to Ouattara were still committing abuses such as arbitrary executions and torture, killing at least 8 people in the past week. Despite the alleged abuses, not a single Ouattara soldier has yet been arrested or detained for any crimes, even though the President has called for impartial justice.

• A former women’s minister in Rwanda became the first woman ever to be convicted of genocide this week and has been sentenced to life in prison for her role in the genocide and rape of Tutsi women and girls, after a 10 year trial. Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, her son and four other former officials were all found guilty. On Wednesday, officials detained six individuals suspected of being used by an exiled General as a conduit to finance activities intended to destabilise the country. By Thursday, President Kagame said that the country was not under any security threat and that they were ready to intercept any attempts to cause instability.

• South Africa has told Swaziland it will only agree to a financial bailout if Swaziland ends its monarchy, the last in Africa. South Africa insists on the unbanning of political parties and the formation of a transition government which will lead the country to democratic elections before it will offer any bailout.

• It was announced on Saturday that Tanzania will present a new constitution in 2014, a year before its next parliamentary and presidential elections, amid opposition pressure for reform following last October’s election that were marred by accusations of rigging. The opposition is demanding a limit to presidential powers, the introduction of electoral reforms, allowing independent candidates to stand for parliament or president, to change the law to allow presidential results to be challenged in court, and the formation of an independent electoral commission.

• Conflict in the Nuba Mountains and Abyei region of Sudan are said to be spiralling into a full-blown major humanitarian emergency, as more than 113,000 have been displaced from their homes and are in desperate need of food, shelter and healthcare. On Tuesday, a new UN report said that children in South Sudan are more likely to die before the age of five than complete a basic education. On Thursday, the US submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that would authorize the deployment of 4,200 Ethiopian troops to Abyei. On Sunday, a train carrying southern Sudanese migrants was attacked in Southern Kordofan state, killing at least one person.

• On Friday, a joint force of soldiers from Mauritania and Mali clashed with al-Qaeda’s African wing in western Mali. On Saturday, it was announced that an al-Qaeda training camp was “completely destroyed”, after “terrorists” struck back with “heavy arms”. Some 17 people were killed in the attack and nine captured by the Malian army.

• On Friday, Tunisia became the first North African state to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), by signing the Rome Statute. Tunisia is the 116th nation to sign the Statute and will become party to the treaty on September 1st.

• On Thursday, a court in Egypt sentenced a businessman and two Israelis tried in absentia to life in prison for spying for Israel. On Friday, a demonstration by Mubarak supporters turned violent after angry onlookers began reportedly clashing with the protesters in central Cairo, causing at least 20 injuries. On Saturday, the former Trade Minister Rachid was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison for embezzling public fund; while the new government dropped plans to seek loans from the IMF and World Bank amid popular distrust for the organizations. On Sunday, families of those killed and injured in anti-Mubarak protests hurled stones at police vehicles outside the court where the former interior minister was being tried.

• Thousands took to the streets in rival demonstrations throughout Morocco on Sunday over constitutional reforms proposed by King Mohammed. Only minor injuries were reported as some of the rival protesters hurled stones at each other.

This Week in the World of Conflict… June 20th- 26th, 2011

• Monday marked World Refugee Day, the 60th anniversary of the creation of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The UNHCR released its annual report on the state of the world’s refugees to coincide with this day. An estimated 80% of the world’s refugees now live in developing countries and yet anti-refugee sentiment is growing in industrialized nations.
• ActionAid released a new report entitled “A Second Global Food Crisis” highlighting the most recent statistics on food production, prices and world hunger. Anti-hunger group ActionAid warned G20 ministers that the world is one bad harvest from a recurrence of the 2008 food crisis and urged Agriculture Ministers meeting in Paris to take urgent action to stabilize food prices and mobilize a system of regional food reserves to help buffer the worst hit. On Thursday, G20 farm ministers agreed to tackle high food prices in a deal that steered clear of divisive talks on issues such as regulation, but agreed to exclude humanitarian aid from export bans, explore food aid stocks and launch a database to improve market transparency. On Sunday, Brazil’s Jose Graziano da Silva was elected head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
• Military researchers are working on shrinking unmanned drones to the size of insects and birds, so that they can “hide in plain sight”. The micro-drones are designed to carry out espionage or kill.
• Foreign Policy magazine issued its annual list of failed states on Monday. African countries made up 7 of the top 10 with Somalia listed as the worst of all failed states. Afghanistan came in at 7th worst, with Iraq at 9th.
• The UN nuclear chief proposed international safety checks on reactors worldwide on Monday, to help prevent any repeat of the Fukushima crisis. At a five-day meeting, IAEA member states will begin charting a strategy on boosting global nuclear safety. Currently there are no mandatory international safety regulations, only recommendations, which national regulators are in charge of enforcing. The UN agency conducts review missions only with member state’s invitation. A leading expert said that global action to protect the nuclear industry against possible terrorist attacks is urgently needed and that some countries had “extraordinarily weak security measures in place” to deal with such attacks.
• June 26th was the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Torture violates the dignity of the human being and I would like to give thanks to those organizations that provide relief and assistance to those who have experienced this horror.
• The UN Foundation’s board of directors met in Norway this week for a series of meetings on how governments, non-profits and the corporate sector can advance goals related to economic development, climate change and women’s and children’s health. The power packed meeting includes Ted Turner, Kofi Annan, Norway PM Brundtland, and numerous others leaders from Jordan, Russia, Japan, the UK, Pakistan, China, and Bangladesh, among others.
• Ban Ki-moon has won a second-term as the UN Secretary General after a vote in the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Ban’s second term will formally begin on January 1st, 2012.
• NATO announced on Thursday that one of its websites was the subject of a probable data breach by hackers, but that it did not contain any classified data. The hacking group Lulz Security announced that it was disbanding, giving no reason for its decision.

This Week in Middle Eastern Conflict… June 17th-23rd, 2011

Hello, hope all is well!

Sorry, several of the This Week in Conflict reports are a little late this week, as I have been without power or Internet since Tuesday, one of the side-effects of living in a conflict zone. As such, stories are only updated until Tuesday evening. I will try to keep to a consistent posting schedule, as much as my access to the Internet allows me.

Peace!

Rebecca

 

This Week in Conflict is now being divided up!

Here is the new schedule:

This Week in the World of Conflict – posted on Mondays

This Week in African Conflict- posted on Tuesdays

This Week in Asian Conflict – posted on Wednesdays (includes Oceania and Australia)

This Week in Conflict in the Americas – posted on Thursdays

This Week in Middle Eastern Conflict – posted on Fridays

This Week in European Conflict – posted on Saturdays

Please submit any reports or stories of conflict around the world to apeaceofconflict@gmail.com or write in the comments below. Here’s a summary of what happened this week in the Middle East:

  • Bahrain announced on Saturday that it was preparing to lift a ban on the country’s second largest opposition party, ahead of a national dialogue in an effort to ease the political crisis. The group, Waad, was shut down in April amid a crackdown by security forces on pro-democracy protests. On Monday, it was reported that 20 Bahraini doctors on trial for taking part in anti-government protests were tortured into making false confessions as they came back into the courtroom. The doctors are accused of taking over the country’s biggest hospital to use as a base to try and overthrow the regime, but many suspect their real crime is speaking out to the international media when the government began a violent suppression of protesters at the end of March.
  • On Saturday, armed men killed an army colonel in north-eastern Baghdad, Iraq; armed men killed a municipality employee in eastern Baghdad; armed men opened fire on a policeman and seriously wounded him in central Baghdad; gunmen shot dead a government-backed militia member in Kirkuk; and a roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi police patrol wounded three policemen and one civilian in Baquba. On Sunday, the Iraqi parliamentary speaker told reporters that the amount of Iraqi development fund money unaccounted for by the US is $18.7 billion, more than three times what has been previously reported.  On Monday, gunmen killed a local leader in his home near Baquba; gunmen kidnapped an ophthalmologist from his home in central Kirkuk; seven were wounded when a French embassy convoy was hit by a make-shift bomb in central Baghdad; gunmen shot dead a policeman at a checkpoint in southern Baghdad; a parked car bomb killed one civilian and wounded four others, including two policemen in northern Baghdad; two roadside bombs wounded two civilians in southern Baghdad; a roadside bomb wounded three, including a policeman in west-central Baghdad; a roadside bomb killed two boys and wounded three from the same family in east Mosul; and gunmen shot dead a man in front of his home in eastern Mosul. The Security Council is set to present a report on the situation of children and armed conflict in Iraq covering the period January 2008-December 2010. On Tuesday, two car bombs killed more than 20 and wounded more than 30 in central Iraq.
  • A rally in support of anti-government protesters in Syria triggered deadly sectarian clashes between rival gunmen in northern Lebanon on Friday. Between four and seven people are thought to be killed and at least 48 wounded.
  • A scheduled meeting aimed at reaching consensus over a new reconciliation government between Palestinian President Abbas and Hamas leader Meshaal was postponed. Fatah officials said continued disagreements meant the talks had been postponed indefinitely. Turkish pro-Palestinian activists announced on Friday that another aid flotilla will sail for Gaza this month, defying an Israeli blockade, but without the Mavi Marmara that suffered damage when it was stormed Israeli commandos a year ago. Israeli military officials warned that they would use force if necessary to prevent the boats from breaking the blockade. The Palestinian Rights Committee approved the agenda of its upcoming June 28-9 Brussels meeting on advancing the Middle East peace process on Monday, as well as on unemployment and access restriction in occupied territories.
  • Israel has authorized the construction of 1,200 new homes and 18 badly needed schools for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in what would be one of the largest housing projects in years.  On Tuesday, Israel’s defence minister said that despite the upheaval in the Arab world, Israel should push forward with negotiations that would restart long-stalled peace talks.
  • More than 100 influential religious clerics and leaders are calling for Presidential elections in Yemen. The petition demands the ouster of President Saleh and new elections within 60 days. On Monday, tens of thousands again took to the streets in the capital, demanding the President’s son, who commands the elite Presidential Guard, leave the country; while government forces reportedly killed one militant and wounded two others in clashes in Aden. On Tuesday, nearly 2,000 Ethiopian migrants trapped in Yemen were being evacuated according to the International Organization for Migration.
  • On Friday, security forces in Syria reportedly shot dead two demonstrators in the eastern provincial capital as they ripped posters of President al-Assad down off the walls of an army garage; while 16 others were shot dead as Syrian forces fired on protesters who rallied across the country, including 8 in Homs, one in Aleepo, and three  in Damascus. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that the Security Council extend the mandate of the UN forces monitoring the ceasefire between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights for six more months. On Saturday, Syrian troops reportedly backed by tanks and heavy machine gun fire swept into a village near the Turkish border, cutting food supplies for nearly 2,000 refugees. On Monday, President al-Assad gave a speech in which he promised to hold a national dialogue, but blamed unrest on a foreign conspiracy carried out by saboteurs and extremists. Protesters took to the streets in response, denouncing the speech they said did not meet popular demands; Turkish President Gul said that the speech was “not enough”, adding that Assad should transform the country into a multi-party system; while Russia emphasized its opposition to the UN resolution condemning the Syrian crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and urged the opposition to sit down with the government for talks on reform. On Tuesday, Assad issued a new Presidential pardon for prisoners, as tens of thousands reportedly took to the street to support him and clashed with opponents in three cities, resulting in the death of seven people by security forces. The UN refugee agency reportedly found the north-western town of Jisr al-Shugour and surrounding villages to be virtually empty of inhabitants during a brief visit to the area.

This Week in Asian Conflict… June 15th-21st, 2011

Hello, hope all is well!

Sorry, several of the This Week in Conflict reports are a little late this week, as I have been without power or Internet since Tuesday, one of the side-effects of living in a conflict zone. As such, stories are only updated until Tuesday evening. I will try to keep to a consistent posting schedule, as much as my access to the Internet allows me.

Peace!

Rebecca

 

This Week in Conflict is now being divided up!

Here is the new schedule:

This Week in the World of Conflict – posted on Mondays

This Week in African Conflict- posted on Tuesdays

This Week in Asian Conflict – posted on Wednesdays (includes Oceania and Australia)

This Week in Conflict in the Americas – posted on Thursdays

This Week in Middle Eastern Conflict – posted on Fridays

This Week in European Conflict – posted on Saturdays

Please submit any reports or stories of conflict around the world to apeaceofconflict@gmail.com or write in the comments below. Here’s a summary of what happened this week in Asia:

  • On Wednesday, five civilians and two policemen were killed and several more injured in a suicide bombing northeast of Kabul, Afghanistan; insurgents targeted a ceremony at a new police training centre in central Wardak province; and two ISAF service members were killed in Kabul in separate bomb attacks. The UN has decided to separate the link between the Taliban and al-Qaeda for joint sanctioning purposes in an attempt to kick-start peace talks within Afghanistan by offering an incentive for Taliban members to renounce al-Qaeda. On Thursday, an ISAF service member was reported killed in an insurgent attack in Kabul; and Russia announced it wants to enlarge its presence in the country during rebuilding in parts of the country where Soviet troops fought a decade long war. On Saturday, nine people were killed in a suicide attack by three men dressed in army uniforms at a police station in Kabul; an ISAF service member was killed in an insurgent attack in Kabul; four Afghan private security guards protecting NATO supply trucks were killed and two others injured by roadside bombs in Ghazni; two ISAF service members were killed in separate insurgent attacks in Kabul; and the President Karzai announced that the US is engaged in peace talks with the Taliban. On Sunday, three civilians were killed and some 11 wounded after a suicide attacker blew up his car next to a German military convoy in the north. On Monday, an ISAF service member was killed by a homemade bomb in Kabul; Afghan and ISAF forces killed a rogue Afghan soldier who shot dead an Australian soldier three weeks ago during an operation in Khost; Afghani authorities complained to Pakistan about its shelling of Afghan villages; and the Afghan finance minister said he is “running out of patience” with the IMF after it rejected a plan to deal with the troubled lender Kabul Bank, jeopardizing the payment of civil servants. On Tuesday, it was reported that US President Obama is expected to withdraw roughly 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan this year.
  • On Wednesday, officials reported that suspected US drones killed at least 15 people in South Waziristan, Pakistan; gunmen attacked and torched two NATO fuel supply trucks in the southwest; and two missiles hit a compound in Wana, killing at least 6. Pakistani intelligence service reportedly arrested the owner of a safe house rented to the CIA to observe bin Laden’s compound before the US raid, as well as a handful of other Pakistani informants who fed information to the CIA.  On Thursday, Pakistan’s army chief General Kayani was reported as “fighting to keep his job amid growing pressure from within the military to reduce ties with the US”; while some 250 militants staged a cross-border raid from Afghanistan into a pro-government village, killing six civilians; a bomb blast destroyed a NATO fuel supply truck in Landikotal; gunmen killed one man in Quetta; and a roadside bomb hit a military convoy in the northwest, wounding two soldiers. On Friday, officials announced that security forces had killed at least 11 suspected militants during clashes in the northwest of the country; police presented charge-sheets against six members of a paramilitary force for the killing of an unarmed man last week that was caught on videotape and later broadcast on channels nationwide; and the government expressed “serious concern” at a NATO aircraft attack on its military post near the Afghani border. On Saturday, Pakistani forces killed three suspected militants after insurgents attacked a military check post in South Waziristan, killing one soldier and wounding two others; and a roadside bomb attack killed a man and two children and wounded over two dozen in Panjgur. On Sunday, officials reported that an army offensive had killed 25 militants and left four soldiers dead near the Afghani border. On Monday, suspected US drones fired missiles into the north-western region, killing at least 11 suspected militants; a car bomb killed one person and wounded 12 in Quetta; an 8 year old girl was kidnapped by militants who allegedly forced her to wear a suicide vest to attack security forces in Peshawar; dozens of militants attacked the homes of two prominent anti-Taliban elders close to the Afghan border, killing at least four and injuring another four; and men wearing police uniforms allegedly beat a Pakistani journalist working for the British Guardian newspaper after he published an account of abduction and torture by suspected intelligence agents. On Tuesday, an army brigadier was arrested for suspected ties to the banned group Hizb-ul-Tahrir.
  • State media in Myanmar/Burma accused ethnic minority rebels of starting deadly fighting near the Chinese border, claiming that government troops had acted to defend a hydropower plant being built to provide power to China. Rebels blame the government for starting the clashes. On Monday, government troops said they had no choice but to fight ethnic Kachin separatists following the collapse of peace talks and violence ensued. One analyst commented that it was no real surprise that conflict continues, as the Kachin had been cut out politically in last year’s election and economically with the dams that they are now accused of attacking.
  • On Thursday, it was reported that China had closed  Tibet to foreigners ahead of the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1st. On Friday, details about the apparently brutal detention of one of China’s most important legal activists, Chen Guangcheng, were released. Chen uncovered stories of forces sterilizations and abortions in an eastern city. A new report by the country’s central bank revealed that thousands of corrupt officials have stolen more than $120 billion and fled overseas since the mid-1990s; and police in southern China arrested 19 people in connection with the civil unrest in Guangdong province. Police also began offering residency and cash rewards to migrant workers who provide tip-offs leading to the arrest of rioters involved in the unrest in Guangdong. On Monday, Singapore asked China to clarify its claims to disputed islands in the South China Sea and urged all parties to act with restraint amid the biggest flare-up in regional tension in years over maritime sovereignty claims.
  • Representatives from India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet later this month to discuss Kashmir in the first formal talks between the two rivals since 2008. Analysts expect no breakthroughs.
  • A new British documentary looking into new allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka sparked debate over whether investigations should be conducted on the extrajudicial killings. The government said the video material shown in the documentary, which shows the apparent execution of three tied up Tamil prisoners, including a woman, was fabricated.  On Thursday, the Tamil party said the military had attacked its campaign events in the north to create a climate of fear ahead of the first local government polls in 26 years, scheduled for July 23.
  • The US Navy intercepted a ship from North Korea suspected of carrying an illegal shipment of missile parts to Myanmar/Burma was reported this week. The cargo ship was forced to return home after a standoff at sea and several days of diplomatic pressure from Washington and Asian nations. On Wednesday, a government source reported that nine North Koreans had defected to the South in a small boat and were seeking asylum, an incident likely to raise tensions between the two sides. South Korea rejected the North’s demand for their return on Friday, with the North warning that relations could worsen if the group is not returned.
  • South Korean Marines fired rifles at a South Korean commercial aircraft flying near the sea border with the North, thinking it was one of the North’s jet fighters on Saturday. The craft sustained no damage, as it was out of range of the rifles.
  • Several foreign members of the legal staff for a UN backed Cambodian tribunal trying former Khmer Rouge leaders walked out in recent weeks to protest an apparent decision by top investigators not to pursue new prosecutions beyond the first two cases. The investigator’s actions echo those of PM Hun Sen, who previously told SG Ban Ki-moon that a so-called Case 3 was “not allowed”.
  • It was reported this week that the alleged leader of the banned Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir was arrested in Tajikistan sometime last week. Sharifjon Yoqubov has already spent 10 years in prison, and his sister alleged that after his arrest his three daughters, aged between 4 and 16, disappeared, and are suspected to be in police custody in an effort to pressure Yoqubov to talk. On Thursday, authorities had detained a local BBC reporter on suspicion of belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir, who was reportedly denied access to his lawyer. On Friday, it was reported that the government had taken the first step towards banning children and adolescents from worshipping in mosques and churches, in the latest crackdown on religious freedom.
  • Philippine security forces are on alert for possible attacks from militants after some rebels had been spotted arriving in Manila this month, the government announced on Thursday. One report suggested a bomb attack was planned for Independence Day (June 12th), though no attack was carried out on that day.
  • Suspected Muslim militants killed 4 soldiers in an ambush at a crowded market in southern Thailand on Thursday. On Monday, suspected militants killed a policeman and two local officials in the south. There has been a sharp rise in the number and scale of attacks in recent months.
  • Vietnam and the US took the first step towards cleaning up Agent Orange contamination on Friday. The US military sprayed up to 12 million gallons of the defoliant between 1961 and 1971 and for years there has been the questions of compensation for Vietnamese who suffered health problems resulting from exposure to the compound.
  • The mother of a jailed youth activist was briefly detained on Friday in Azerbaijan after leaving her membership card from the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party on the grave of the former President. A security guard explained that the detention occurred to “clarify the issue”.
  • The parliament of Kyrgyzstan has adopted a new resolution calling for a local news website to be banned, claiming it “ignites ethnic hatred” among Uzbeks and Kyrgyz. Uzbek officials banned the website in 2005 after the site’s coverage of the massacre of protesters by security forces. Some fear it would be the “introduction of censorship” to the country. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media voiced a concern, saying that the measures could potentially limit media pluralism.

This Week in African Conflict… June 14th-20th, 2011

This Week in Conflict is now being divided up!

Here is the new schedule:

This Week in the World of Conflict – posted on Mondays

This Week in African Conflict- posted on Tuesdays

This Week in Asian Conflict – posted on Wednesdays (includes Oceania and Australia)

This Week in Conflict in the Americas – posted on Thursdays

This Week in Middle Eastern Conflict – posted on Fridays

This Week in European Conflict – posted on Saturdays

Please submit any reports or stories of conflict around the world to apeaceofconflict@gmail.com or write in the comments below. Here’s a summary of what happened this week in Africa:

  • Different pro-Gbagbo factions continue to support the ousted President of Cote d’Ivoire from a position of exile, including Simone Gbagbo’s daughter, who has hired a legal team to defend what she calls the “illegal detainment” of her parents; and Charles Ble Goude, the “Street General”, long thought dead has now resurfaced and is pledging to play a role in future politics within the country. On Thursday, the new Ivorian government announced the creation of a national investigation commission on the crimes perpetrated during the post-election crisis, that in theory would punish all no matter which side of the conflict they were from, though Human Rights Watch has pointed out that no one from Ouattara’s camp has yet been arrested or investigated and that justice appears one-sided and delayed. The top UN human rights official expressed concern over acts of violence allegedly carried out by members of the new army, the FRCI, including reports of summary executions, rape and torture. On Friday, a huge cache of arms and ammunition was reportedly uncovered in Liberia near the Ivorian border, including RPGs, machine guns and assault rifles, while the mercenary commander known as “Bob Marley”, who is said to have ordered the killing of civilians in Cote d’Ivoire was in custody. Also on Friday, the ICC gave victims of post-election violence 30 days to submit testimony to the chief prosecutor, which personally, I think is far too short, especially considering the number of people still in hiding in the bush or displaced and unable to access media that would let them even know of the deadline. Medicins Sans Frontieres compiled a very telling group of stories from ordinary people who suffered the violence over the past few months and the toll that this conflict took on their families. Concerns remain over the daunting task of uniting the country’s security forces, which remain divided and suspicious of each other. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs remains concerned that the Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan for the country is only 25% funded; seriously impeding much needed humanitarian assistance.
  • On Tuesday, the UN refugee agency urged authorities in Sudan to allow road and air access for aid workers trying to help thousands of fleeing people in Southern Kordofan, after being denied permission to land in the state capital for nearly a week and prevented land access by roadblocks of militiamen; while 29 people were reportedly killed in a cattle raid in south Sudan. On Wednesday, air strikes in Southern Kordofan are said to have killed as many as 64 people and caused tens of thousands to flee; while the north and south continued to clash in the disputed Abyei border region, with unconfirmed reports of civilians being targeted at checkpoints for torture, harassment and sometimes summary executions. On Thursday, North Sudan’s army vowed to continue fighting against the south in Southern Kordofan to end what it calls an “armed rebellion” and South Sudan’s army said it was ready for more attacks by northern forces in the Abyei region. It was also reported; however, that mediator Thabo Mbeki said that the warring parties in Southern Kordofan agreed that hostilities should cease and that talks should start. On Friday, the UN condemned the detention and abuse by the Sudanese armed forces towards four UN peacekeepers that were on patrol in Southern Kordofan; while six shells fired by the SAF were said to have landed 150 metres away from an UNMIS base near Abyei. While everyone is worried about the future of Southern Sudan, Rebecca Hamilton discusses the possibility that the North is actually in the most danger of returning to full out conflict. On Saturday, Nigeria announced it was considering the possibility of keeping its troops in Southern Sudan beyond the July 9th Independence. On Sunday, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) categorically denied allegations of misconduct against its peacekeepers in the state of South Kordofan, made by independent observers and both parties to the conflict, and complained that the closure of airspace and restrictions on access are undermining its humanitarian operations there. The SPLM has accused Egyptian peacekeepers of complicity with SAF and of raping local women under UN protection; while local activists accuse UNMIS of reacting to violence with silence or a refusal of requests for evacuation of individuals who were in danger. On Monday, Ethiopian peacekeepers moved into the contested Abyei region under a new deal negotiated between the north and the south that also called upon both sides to remove their troops and demilitarize the area; while Sudan’s defence minister accused anti-government fighters of trying to create a “second Benghazi” in Southern Kordofan and vowed that the military would “clean” the area. Texas in Africa compiled a great list of further reading on Sudan’s conflict, if you want to know more about the situation.
  • On Tuesday, the Russian head of the World Chess Federation said that he learned that Libya’s Gaddafi is open to talks with NATO and the country’s rebels after playing chess with him; pro-Gaddafi forces bombarded the Tunisian border post; some 21 rebel fighters were killed in clashes on the eastern front; Libyan tv reported that NATO was bombing civilian and military targets in a central town; while NATO said it had hit several military targets near Tripoli and rockets are said to have damaged generators at an oil refinery near Misrata, allowing the rebels to make fresh gains on the western front. South African President Zuma said NATO is abusing a UN resolution to protect Libyan civilians in order to pursue regime change and political assassinations. NATO is said to be dropping leaflets from the sky showing a picture of a helicopter and a burning tank that tell those below that if they see the helicopters, “it means it is already too late”. On Wednesday, NATO reportedly hit a bus at the entrance to the town of Kikla, killing some 12 people; rebels reportedly pushed deeper into government-held territory south of the capital; and Reuters reported a story that rebels were giving their enemies (some 360 of them) dignified Muslim burials in the town of Misrata. On Thursday, Spain ordered its Libyan ambassador and three embassy staff to leave the country over what it called the illegitimacy of Gaddafi’s rule; while Gaddafi was reportedly losing friends all over Africa. One of his sons announced that Gaddafi would agree to internationally supervised elections on the condition there is no vote-rigging, and that he would step down if he lost, but would never leave Libya, as he intends to die and be buried there; a move the US immediately dismissed, calling it too late. On Friday, rebels and pro-government forces exchanged heavy fire near Zlitan; at least 10 people were killed and 40 wounded in government shelling of Misrata; Gaddafi pledged to defeat NATO in an aired audio speech on Libyan TV and Russia’s envoy to Libya said that representatives of the Gaddafi government are in contact across Europe with members of the Libyan rebellion. On Saturday, gun battles continued in the northwest city of Nalut, killing at least 8 rebels and wounding 13; at least two explosions shook Tripoli; UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that the beginnings of a negotiation process were underway; while NATO has accused Gaddafi’s forces of using mosques and children’s parks as shields. It appears US President Obama may be in some hot water over his decision to continue the air war in Libya without congressional approval despite rulings to the contrary; and rebels complain they have run out of money, accusing the West of failing to keep its promises of urgent financial aid. Thousands of documents that reveal orders from Gaddafi’s senior generals to bombard and starve the people of Misrata have been gathered by war crimes investigators and will help form damning evidence in any future war crimes trial at the ICC. On Sunday, government officials took journalists to a site it alleges was bombed by NATO warplanes, while NATO admitted its forces mistakenly targeted a column of Libyan rebels, injuring as many as 16 fighters. The UK reported the total cost of its involvement in Libya could run into the “hundreds of millions” of pound and is currently costing tens of millions from reserve funds set aside for contingencies. NATO has also announced that it is investigating Libyan government claims that it bombed a residential area within the capital, killing several civilians. On Monday, three rockets fired by Gaddafi forces reportedly hit a built-up area near the port in Misrata, killing a 13 year-old child and wounding two other children; rebels shut off a pipeline in the Western Mountains region that supplies crude from an oilfield in the south to a refinery near the capital in an attempt to stifle the Gaddafi regime; more than 20 Gaddafi troops are said to have defected from a brigade in the south and joined the rebellion; NATO admitted to launching a missile strike against a compound that killed at least 15 people, including three children, calling it a “legitimate military target under the mandate of the UN resolution”; Italy’s foreign minister said that NATO has endangered its credibility by the killing of civilians; while the EU foreign ministers have agreed to look into the possibility of using frozen Libyan funds to assist the rebels.
  • The curfew on Cairo, Egypt’s streets officially ended on Wednesday, five months after it was imposed by Mubarak in an attempt to stem protests against his rule. Many had ignored the curfew and did what they wanted, with little interference from the police. Egyptian Bedouins are beginning to demand equal citizenship rights in the face of discrimination, hoping that the new regime will represent a change for them. On Saturday, government troops fired shots in the air to prevent hundreds of protesting employees of the Suez Canal Authority from storming its office in Ismailia; and an Egyptian court suspended its order to remove the names of former President Mubarak and his wife from public institutions, pending a review of the case on Wednesday. On Sunday, the PM reportedly said that the country’s critical parliamentary elections, currently set for September, could be delayed in an attempt to avoid giving an unfair advantage to the Muslim Brotherhood. On Monday, former President Mubarak’s lawyer said that Mubarak is suffering from stomach cancer, and cited the need for a medical report to assess whether he is fit enough to face trial.
  • Former President Ben Ali of Tunisia faced trial in absentia on June 20th for conspiring against the state, voluntary manslaughter, drug trafficking and several other civil and military cases. The court found him and his wife guilty of theft, fined the couple $66 million and sentenced them to 35 years in jail. Saudi authorities have not responded to a request by Tunis to extradite Ben Ali. Ben Ali is also to face dozens of charges over civilian deaths that happened between December 17th and January 14th of this year in three military courts. On Monday, Ben Ali stated that he had not simply fled, but rather had been tricked into leaving his country on fears of an assassination plot, and as such, still considers himself to be President.
  • Concern is rising over the expulsion of thousands of Congolese from Angola over the past month. Many report torture and other abuses during their detainment before being deported.  On Wednesday, Congo’s parliament passed an electoral law little changed from the document that governed the last elections, much to the concern of opposition leaders who have expressed concern over the poll’s credibility.
  • A suspected suicide bomb attack killed several people outside police headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria on Thursday. Police suspect the radical Boko Haram sect for the attack. Hours later, an explosion near a church killed four children in the northeast. The Inspector General of Police stated that the sect’s days were numbered following the donation of 10 armoured personnel carriers and 10 patrol vehicles by the Governor. The sect reacted by reading a statement saying they would soon wage Jihad and that warriors had arrived from Somalia where they received serious warfare training. On Monday, authorities arrested 58 sect members after storming a Boko Haram headquarters in Maiduguri.
  • The ruling African National Congress party in South Africa has re-elected an unopposed Juliou Malema as the President of the youth wing. The election has upset many who are angered at Malema for singing apartheid-era songs advocating the shooting of white farmers and is working to nationalise mines and seize white-owned farms. The opposition in SA has raised new allegations of bribery surrounding a multi-billion dollar arms deal that is to be investigated.
  • The King of Morocco promised a new democratic constitution on Friday that would devolve some of his powers to parliament and the government that Moroccans would be able to vote for in a July 1st referendum. The final draft explicitly grants the government executive powers, although the king would keep exclusive control over military and religious fields and pick a PM from the party that wins the polls. The promises were not enough for many pro-democracy activists who still planned to hold their weekly protests on the weekend to call for greater changes to the system. Reuters offers an interesting timeline of different reforms in the country starting in 1999.
  • Al-Shabaab in Somalia announced on Friday that it will cooperate with al Qaeda’s new leader Al Zawahiri as much as possible. The group pledged its allegiances to al Zawahiri as it used to be under Bin Laden. On Sunday, the PM announced that he had resigned, after initially refusing to step down, following an agreement between the President and parliament to remove him from office. Many fear that the resignation could prompt an intensified power struggle and negatively affect the ongoing offensive against insurgents in the capital. A new study reported that over 4,000 international seafarers were violently attacked by Somali pirates last year, 1,090 taken hostage, and 516 used as human shields; and that new tactics break a previous code of conduct that had kept violence to a minimum.
  • Leaders across southern Africa called for President Mugabe of Zimbabwe to speed up the progress towards fair and free elections conducted on a “level playing field”. South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique assigned a team to work with Zimbabwean officials to ensure elections and the enforcement of a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and PM Tsvangirai. Human rights monitors report that the army –loyal to Mugabe—have already deployed units to rural areas to intimidate voters.
  • The new chief justice in Kenya vowed on Monday to fight corruption and impunity, although analysts said he would have to stand up to powerful politicians and businessmen to success in turning the courts around. Analysts have previously said that the country’s post-election violence in 2007-8 might have been avoided if there had been a credible legal mechanism for settling disputes.
  • New official proposed changes to an election law in Senegal  could see current President Wade win re-election with as little as 25% of in a first round vote instead of a majority. The proposal is expected to sail through the majority-controlled parliament in coming days, much to the chagrin of the opposition, who call it a “coup d’état” against the constitution.