PSR: August 24, 2018


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August 18 – August 24
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This week in:

IPSI | Africa | Americas | East Asia | Europe & Central Asia | Middle East | South Asia

New FrontiersNew Frontiers Memoirs: The inaugural DC Symposium on the New Frontiers of Peacebuilding gathered 26 carefully selected global peacebuilders for a three-week program examining innovative perspectives on peacebuilding. The New Frontiers Memoirs provide descriptions and analysis of this cutting-edge program.

They were written by the student body––international peacebuilders whose diverse backgrounds, experiences, and origins enabled them to provide a thorough reflection on this experience. We hope readers of the Memoirs find in this document innovative viewpoints that motivate them to think creatively about new approaches to peacebuilding.

Stabilization Exec Report

Stabilization Symposium Executive Report: On June 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of State, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Defense jointly released the Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR).  On June 26-27, 2018, Creative Learning, the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, and other strategic partners gathered over 300 thought leaders, policy makers, legislators, development practitioners, peacebuilders, and the private sector to engage with the State, USAID, and DoD architects of the SAR and each other to dialogue about applying this new framework in practice, incorporating a multi-stakeholder approach, and addressing challenges to implementing coordinated stabilization programming.

This week in Sub-Saharan Africa

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: RUSSIA and CAR sign joint security cooperation deal


On Tuesday, the Central African Republic (CAR) signed a joint military accord with Russia. Per the framework agreement, the increased collaboration will include “exchange of delegations, education in Russian military institutes, mutual visits and so forth” between the two nations. The CAR government hopes that increased military alignment with Russia will assist them in the fight against armed militia groups that control most of the volatile African nation. Comment: Even before this pact, Moscow made its presence felt in CAR, having provided arms and security forces to the country earlier in the year. Furthermore, in late July, three Russian journalists were killed in CAR while investigating Russian mercenaries in the war-torn country. (Reuters, New York Times, Radio Free Europe)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: New experimental treatments approved as latest Ebola outbreak worsens


On Tuesday, Congo’s health ministry approved the use of four new experimental Ebola treatments as the Central African country attempts to combat the latest outbreak of the deadly virus, which has claimed the lives of 59 people since last month. Health officials are optimistic regarding the efficacy of treatments and vaccines being deployed, but continuing security threats remain a major concern. According to the World Health Organization, ongoing violence in eastern Congo has prevented aid workers from reaching certain areas of the country potentially affected by the virus. Comment: This latest epidemic follows a separate Ebola outbreak that recently killed 33 people in the northwest of the country. Since the deadly virus was discovered in 1976, Congo has endured ten outbreaks of Ebola, considerably more than any other country. (Reuters 1, 2, AP, Al Jazeera, Mail & Guardian)

UGANDA: Protests erupt in Kampala as lawmakers remain imprisoned

On Monday, security personnel dispersed protesters with live bullets and tear gas following two days of demonstrations in the capital of Kampala over the continued detention of five Ugandan lawmakers who were arrested on August 13 for allegedly taking part in the stoning of a presidential convoy. The majority of protesters support politician Robert Kyagulanyi, a “musician-turned-lawmaker” who is better known by his stage name Bobi Wine. Kyagulanyi has long been an outspoken critic of President Yoweri Museveni, dating back to before his current government tenure began. Comment: Demonstrators accused security officials of mistreating Kyagulanyi and the other detained lawmakers through acts of torture and assault, though government representatives have repeatedly denied these allegations. Critics of Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, view this suspected abuse of opposition lawmakers as the latest attempt to stifle dissent through “intimidation, beatings, detentions and prosecutions on trumped-up charges.” (Daily Monitor, Reuters, AP, BBC)


Researched/Written by Matan Ayash

This week in the Americas & Caribbean

BRAZIL: Attacks on Venezuelan migrant camps force hundreds to flee back to Venezuela


On Saturday, Brazilians in the northern town of Pacaraima attacked a Venezuelan migrant camp after claims spread that a Venezuelan migrant allegedly assaulted a local merchant. According to reports, “Gangs of men carrying stones and sticks set fire to tents and other items belonging to the Venezuelans,” during weekend protests against the influx of refugees coming into northern Brazil. After the attacks, it is believed that more than 1,000 migrants crossed back into Venezuela. Comment: Brazil’s public security ministry said it is sending an additional 60 troops to support police in the region. The attacks come amid a migration crisis in the region, where in recent weeks, more than 800 Venezuelans have crossed into Pacaraima each day. (Al Jazeera, BBC, New York Times)

ECUADOR: Government requests regional summit to address Venezuelan migrant crisis


On Tuesday, the government announced that it wants to hold a summit in Quito with regional countries to address the growing Venezuelan migrant crisis. The foreign ministry will invite Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Venezuela to the capital city for a summit on September 17 and 18 of this year. Ecuador’s Vice Minister for Human Mobility Santiago Chavez said that “migratory chaos” is the “worst thing” that could happen to a country. Comment: The call for a summit comes amidst a regional migrant crisis. Last week, both Ecuador and Peru announced stricter entry requirements for Venezuelan migrants, spurring a migration of more than 200 people who attempted to enter Ecuador illegally in hopes of getting to Peru before the new entry requirements are implemented. (Voice of America, Reuters 1, 2, The Japan News)

EL SALVADOR: Government breaks diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China

On Tuesday, El Salvador’s president Salvador Sánchez Cerén announced the country’s establishment of diplomatic ties with China, in a reversal of the country’s previous allegiance to Taiwan. In a televised event, President Cerén said El Salvador would “embark on trade, development and investment with China,” and that the move corresponds with international law and the “inevitable trends of our time.”   Shortly after the announcement, Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen issued a statement, saying that Taiwan hoped to prevent El Salvador from becoming a “battlefield in a cross-strait diplomatic war.” Comment: The announcement comes amidst rapid Chinese growth in the region. Out of the 17 nations that recognize Taiwan, nine of them are in Latin America. El Salvador is the third in the region to break its ties with Taiwan in the last two years. The U.S. ambassador to El Salvador said the move would impact U.S. relations with El Salvador, as the United States remains a strong supporter of Taiwan. (Reuters 1, 2, NPR, AP News, New York Times)

                                                                                             Researched/Written by Abigail Gress

This week in East Asia & Pacific

CAMBODIA: Radio Free Asia journalists accused of espionage granted bail

On Tuesday, Phnom Penh’s Municipal Court granted bail to two former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists. Authorities arrested the two on November 14, 2017 and charged them with espionage for allegedly leaking information adverse to Cambodian national defense – other charges against them include production of pornography. Radio Free Asia shut down its Phnom Penh bureau on September 12 of last year due to government repression and to protest the forced closure of its FM radio broadcasts; at the time, the national government accused RFA of being biased against the government. Comment: Executive Director Chak Sopheap of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights said the releases were the latest attempt by the government to improve its image after its election. (Channel News Asia, Committee to Protect Journalists, Khmer Times, Reuters)

INDONESIA: Kindergarten staff apologize for child parade viral videos and photos


On Monday, TK Kartika kindergarten in the city of Probolinggo, East Java, apologized for viral images and videos of 15 kindergarten-aged girls marching in niqab veils and carrying cardboard cutouts of assault rifles during a parade for their school located on an Indonesian military complex. The head of the kindergarten expressed regret over the decision and said they wanted to teach the students about the Prophet Muhammad’s struggles, but were not trying to “instill violence” in the students. Probolinggo military commander Lieutenant Colonel Kav Depri Rio Saransi also said the parade was not intended to promote religious radicalism. Comment: Images and videos of the parade circulated online the same day Indonesia opened the 18th annual Asian Games in Jakarta to celebrate the country’s cultural diversity. Earlier in May, a family orchestrated church bombings in the deadliest terrorist attack in the country in a decade, with children as young as 9 participating. (The Strait Times, Time, South China Morning Post, Newshub)

NORTH KOREA / SOUTH KOREA: Families temporarily reunited for first time in three years


On Monday, approximately 90 families from North Korea and South Korea temporarily reunited, in the first round of reunion events created specifically for relatives who have been separated by the Korean War for more than 60 years. Relatives were able to reunite for a total of 11 hours throughout the three-day period in North Korea’s tourist resort of Mount Kumgang. On Thursday, 88 more groups of relatives met, totaling 469 individuals from the South and approximately 128 from the North who attended the reunion meetings, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. Comment: Decades of political gridlock between North and South Korea resulted in mass family separation. The three-year hiatus since the last family reunion meetings is a result of the acceleration of North Korea’s nuclear proliferation plans. (Agence France Presse, The Strait Times, Reuters, Yonhap News Agency 1,2)

Researched/Written by Nida Kuruvilla

This week in Europe & Central Asia

CHECHNYA: Young Islamic State militants launch attacks against police


On Monday, young Islamic State militants launched a series of coordinated attacks against security forces that left five attackers dead – all of whom were children between 11-16 years old. The attacks occurred simultaneously in different locations and involved an assault on a police station, an attempted suicide bombing, and the ramming of two police officers with a vehicle; no officers died. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attacks on Wednesday and released videos that purported to show four of the young attackers brandishing knives and pledging allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Comment: Five of the militants were shot dead during the attacks; a sixth who attempted to blow himself up survived and was taken to the hospital. Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov downplayed the attacks, saying police quickly neutralized any threat and that the young militants were brainwashed by IS and had no public support in Chechnya. (Al Jazeera, Reuters, AP, NY Times)

HUNGARY: Human Rights Watch says authorities are denying food to asylum seekers


According to a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday, Hungarian authorities have stopped distributing food to rejected asylum seekers held in transit zones on the country’s border with Serbia since early August. An Afghan woman has become the eighth asylum seeker to be refused food, according to her legal representative, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC); two Afghan families and a pair of Syrian brothers are also among those denied food after their asylum applications were rejected. In previous cases, the European Court of Human Rights forced Hungarian authorities to start providing food after the HHC filed an emergency appeal. Comment: Hungary’s Immigration and Asylum Office said Monday that Hungarian law does not oblige authorities to provide food to people in transit zones; however, HRW says authorities have obligations under human rights treaties and norms that prohibit inhumane treatment of those in custody, and that they must provide food, water, hygiene, and medical needs. (Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, NPR, Human Rights Watch)

TURKEY: Two men detained after shots fired at US embassy

On Monday morning, two men fired six shots from a moving car at the U.S. embassy in Ankara, hitting the embassy gate and a reinforced window. The men were detained soon after the shooting, and both confessed to the attack. One of the suspects told police he shot at the building out of anger over President Donald Trump’s recent statements against Turkey over the trial of a U.S. pastor in Turkey and the subsequent fall of the Turkish lira. Comment: The attack comes during heightened tensions between the two countries over the trial of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor being prosecuted in Turkey for alleged espionage and terrorism-related offenses. Turkey has refused to release Brunson back to the U.S., causing President Trump’s administration to place sanctions against top officials and tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel. Turkey responded with a boycott of some U.S. electronics and tariffs on other goods. (Hurriyet Daily News, Al Jazeera, AP, NY Times)

Researched/Written by Abby Fram

This week in the Middle East & North Africa

QATAR / SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia accused of barring Qatari Muslims from Hajj pilgrimage

Qatar-Saudi Arabia

On Sunday, member of the state-run Qatar National Human Rights Committee Abdullah Al-Kaabi told Reuters that, though up to 1,200 Qatari Muslims can participate in the Hajj under a quota system, Saudi Arabia shut down an electronic system that travel agencies use to obtain pilgrimage permits. Saudi officials strongly denied all accusations that Qatari Muslims were being blocked, instead accusing Qatar of trying to politicize the Hajj, which is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim is expected to partake in at least once in their lives. Comment: On June 2017, Qatar broke diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt due to accusations that Qatar has been “funding terrorism” and growing close to Iran, an enemy of many countries in the region. As a result, direct flights between Qatar and Saudi Arabia for the Hajj have stopped, and travel costs have deterred multiple travel agencies in Doha, Qatar from selling Hajj travel tickets. (Al Jazeera, China Global Television Network, Daily Sabah, Reuters, The Telegraph)


Researched/Written by Nida Kuruvillla 

SAUDI ARABIA: Country seeks death penalty for female activist

Saudi Arabia

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five human rights activists currently on trial in a secretive terrorism court. Among the detained is Israa al-Ghomgham, the first woman to possibly face capital punishment for a nonviolent political crime; the charges against her include incitement to protest and providing moral support to rioters. Middle East director at HRW Sarah Leah Whitson said in a statement Wednesday, “Any execution is appalling, but seeking the death penalty for activists like Israa al-Ghomgham, who are not even accused of violent behavior, is monstrous.” Comment: The five activists, along with another not facing the death penalty, have been held in pretrial detention with no legal representation for over two years. They are next due to appear in court on October 28. (Haaretz, Al Jazeera, BBC, NY Times)


                                                                                                Researched/Written by Abby Fram 

REGIONAL: Islamic State releases audio purportedly of its leader

On Wednesday, the Islamic State (IS) released audio which it claimed to be of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. If confirmed to be al-Baghdadi, the audio, released through the group’s media channel, would be the first speech the leader has given since September of 2017. In the audio, the speaker urged IS followers to “persevere” despite recent setbacks. He called on IS supporters to remain devoted to their mission and praised the recent attacks in Canada and Europe. The man in the recording also passed along good wishes to Muslims for Eid al-Adha, signifying the recent nature of the recording. Comment: Baghdadi is regularly reported as killed or wounded, but this audio recording suggests that he is still alive. He is currently believed to be in hiding in the proximity of the Iraq-Syria border following a series of recent military defeats at the hands of international actors. (Al Jazeera, Reuters, AP, BBC)

                                                                                            Researched/Written by Matan Ayash

This week in South Asia

AFGHANISTAN: Rockets near presidential palace interrupt President Ghani’s Eid broadcast


On Tuesday, militants fired two rockets towards the presidential palace in Kabul, in its most fortified and secured area, interrupting President Ashraf Ghani’s address to the nation on Eid al-Adha. While one rocket landed near the palace, the other landed near a NATO compound and the U.S. embassy. No casualties were reported, and there was no immediate statement from the Taliban, the suspected perpetrator. The attack prompted a joint Afghan-U.S. aerial bombardment of a house from where the rockets were allegedly launched, reportedly killing nine militants. Comment: During the span of the 17-year war with the Afghan government, the Taliban have repeatedly refused peace talks, and have increased their attacks on security forces and government buildings in the past months. (The Guardian, Al Jazeera, TIME)

INDIA: Kerala state requests loans from central government as death toll from floods rises


On Tuesday, Chief Minister of Kerala state Pinarayi Vijayan announced that the region will be seeking a loan of USD 1.4 billion from the central government for rebuilding efforts, after recent floods damaged USD 28 billion worth of infrastructure. Vijayan also announced that the United Arab Emirates pledged USD 7 billion in aid, although the Ministry of External Affairs claimed that a formal proposal was never received. Comment: Since August 8, the worst floods in a century have killed 400 hundred people and displaced around 1.3 million into shelters and relief camps. Many have expressed dissatisfaction with the central government’s response to the disaster. (Reuters, Times of India, NDTV)

SRI LANKA: Japanese defense minister visits China-controlled port on state visit

On Tuesday, the defense ministers of Japan and Sri Lanka, Itsunori Onodera and Ruwan Wijewardene, met in Colombo to discuss defense and maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean. In the first-ever visit to Sri Lanka by a Japanese defense minister, Onodera visited the Chinese-built Hambantota port in the south, recognizing it in a speech as a crucial shipping hub; he also emphasized the need for freedom of navigation for all countries. Onodera also visited the Trincomalee port that will be developed with Japanese and Indian assistance. Comment: The visit comes in a context of growing Chinese assertiveness in the Indian Ocean. Last year, Sri Lanka agreed to lease the Hambantota for 99 years to the China Harbor Engineering Company. (NHK World, Sputnik, Daily Mirror, The New York Times)

                                                                                            Researched/Written by Kritika Kapoor

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