PSR: July 13, 2018

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This week in Peace & Security, brought to you every Friday
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July 7 – July 13
This week in IPSI news:
Sarajevo SquareSarajevo Symposium finishes first week!

DC SquareDC Symposium begins tomorrow!

Stabilization Symposium Webpage BlockStabilization Symposium videos now online!

This week in:

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

This week in Sub-Saharan Africa

ETHIOPIA / ERITREA: Horn of Africa neighbors to renew diplomatic ties, end prolonged stalemate


On Monday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a historic agreement during a landmark meeting in Eritrea’s capital city of Asmara, formally ending the “state of war” between the two nations. In addition to fully implementing the 2000 Algiers Agreement, the two countries will also pursue restored diplomatic relations, telecommunication links, and trade partnerships. Per the agreement, landlocked Ethiopia also hopes to utilize Eritrea’s port cities for easier access to the Red Sea. Comment: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the diplomatic breakthrough, stating that it was indicative of “a new wind of hope blowing across Africa.” He further said that longtime sanctions imposed on Eritrea could be lifted as a result of the peace deal. (Ethiopian Herald, Reuters, AP, BBC)

NIGERIA: Opposition parties unite ahead of 2019 elections


On Monday, dozens of Nigeria’s primary opposition parties agreed to form an alliance ahead of the February 2019 elections. Among the parties that make up the newly established Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) is the Reformed-All Progressives Congress, which recently split from President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressive Congress following a series of major disagreements. The 39 parties that comprise CUPP plan to field a single candidate in the hopes of challenging President Buhari’s tight grip on power. Comment: The alliance poses a major threat to Buhari’s prospects of success in the approaching presidential elections. The outcome of the impending nationwide vote will have extensive impact across the region, as Nigeria is Africa’s leading economy and a significant player in the continent’s efforts to combat violent extremism. (Vanguard, Reuters, Al Jazeera)

SOUTH SUDAN: Main opposition rejects proposed peace deal

On Monday, SPLM-IO officials rejected a peace agreement with the Sudanese government that would have reinstated rebel leader Riek Machar to his former position of vice president. Last week, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni mediated the talks between Machar and President Salva Kiir that ultimately led to this proposed arrangement. SPLM-IO deputy spokesperson, Puok Both Baluang, stated that the current iteration of the deal fails to curb Kiir’s authority over the government and disregards fundamental issues. Comment: Agreement on Machar’s position within Salva Kiir’s government would overcome one of the most significant obstacles to a peace deal between the longstanding rivals. This rejection comes on the heels of repeated violations by both sides of the ceasefire that was scheduled to begin on Saturday. (Sudan Tribune, Reuters, France24)

                                                                                           Researched/Written by Matan Ayash


Symposiums - 27.03.18

This week in the Americas & Caribbean

HAITI: Protests over fuel prices continue, at least four dead


This weekend, protests over an increase in fuel prices continued throughout Haiti despite a government rollback of those proposed increases. Under the proposal, prices of gasoline would increase by 38 percent, while diesel would rise 47 percent and kerosene 51 percent. Protests began Friday and continued even after the suspension of the proposal and Haitian President Jovenel Moise called on protesters to “go home.” At least four people died during the protests, as protesters blocked roads, burned cars, and attacked local businesses and hotels. Comment: On Saturday, Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant suspended the increase in prices due to the protests. The hike in prices came as part of an IMF agreement to “boost government revenue and services and strengthen the country’s economy.” (Haiti Libre, CNN, Reuters, Al Jazeera)

NICARAGUA: Deadliest day in anti-government protests kills 38


On Sunday, 38 people died in anti-government protests in the towns of Diriamba, Jinotepe, and Matagalpa, according to the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (Cenidh).  Allegedly, police and pro-government forces inflicted most of the casualties, attempting to clear protestor’s road barricades. According to Cenidh, 31 victims were anti-government protestors, four were police officers, and three were members of pro-government forces. The bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, claimed the removal of the road barriers “was conducted at the price of blood and death.” Comment: The protests began in April against social security reforms, but quickly transformed into broad anti-government protests. The protests have resulted in approximately 300 deaths. (BBC, Nicaragua Today, Al Jazeera, The Guardian)


                                                                                          Researched/Written by Abigail Gress

UNITED STATES: Trump reaffirms commitment to NATO after clashes over military spending

On Thursday, President Trump upended a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Brussels when he demanded that NATO allies increase their military spending from two to four percent of GDP, stating that if they did not follow his demands the United States would “go it alone.” Trump’s comments caused NATO countries to call for a joint emergency meeting Thursday morning – Trump himself left the session saying that member countries agreed to his demands to raise defense spending, while other countries refuted that claim. After the emergency sessions, Trump held a press conference in which he said that “the United States commitment to NATO is very strong. I believe in NATO.” Comment: NATO member nations agreed in 2014 to spend two percent of GDP on defense by 2024, an agreement which multiple member nations said after the emergency meeting they are still committed to. French President Emmanuel said Thursday, “there is a communique that was published yesterday. It’s very detailed. It confirms the goal of two percent by 2024. That’s all.” (NY Times, Washington Post, AP, BBC)

Researched/Written by Abby Fram

This week in East Asia & Pacific

CHINA: Liu Xia goes to Germany for treatment

On Tuesday, Liu Xia arrived in Germany to receive medical treatment for her mental health, which worsened after her husband Liu Xiaobo’s death in July 2017. Liu Xiaobo is famous for winning a Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his pro-democracy views, which resulted in the Chinese government arresting him for political dissent. The government put Liu Xia under house arrest after her husband’s arrest, and she has been under strict surveillance since, with all phone calls monitored. Comment: Human Rights Watch’s China director stated that President Xi Jinping “should be held responsible” for the actions against the couple and the hundreds of activists, journalists, and opposition figures who are still in jail due to Xi’s anti-dissent campaign. (Al Jazeera, Amnesty International, Reuters, South China Morning Post)

JAPAN: Number of dead, missing, and displaced increasing after floods


On Monday, the death toll rose to 126 with 80 people missing and thousands more displaced due to unexpected flooding in the southwestern regions of the country. In the most damaged areas, such as Okayama Prefecture, more than 1,000 residents became stranded on their roofs until rescued via helicopter. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a meeting that he increased the Self-Defense forces, rescue teams, and financial aid going into the disaster relief efforts. Comment: According to a 2017 fiscal survey by the Cabinet Office, only about 30 percent of Japanese business have continuity plans for floods, which left them vulnerable to damages such as disrupted supply lines and no access to water and power. Prime Minister Abe cancelled meetings with Belgium, France, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt to focus on the emergency. (Asian Nikkei Review, BBC, Mainichi)

PHILIPPINES: Duterte clashes with Catholic Church


On Tuesday, President Duterte met with Archbishop Romula Valles in Malacañang to reconcile an ongoing dispute between Duterte and the Catholic Church in the Philippines. The previous Friday during an unscripted speech, Duterte expressed some of his contrary views of Catholicism, even stating that he would step down from office if someone could prove God is real. On Monday, the bishops put out a joint letter calling for three days of prayer and penance, stating that believers should use this time to think about the innocent people adversely affected by the political insurgencies and Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. Comment: The Philippines is a Catholic-majority nation with more than 80 percent of the population identifying as Catholic. Valles stated in the letter that the Catholic Church is not a political entity and instead “speaks from the perspective of faith and morals,” and he hopes that Duterte and the Catholic bishops can work together cooperatively. (Crux Now, The Independent, The Philippine Star, South China Morning Post)

                                                                             Researched/Written by Nida Kuruvilla

This week in Europe & Central Asia

ROMANIA: Top anti-corruption prosecutor fired


On Monday, President Klaus Iohannis dismissed the head of the country’s anti-graft agency, Laura Codruta Kovesi. A constitutional court ruling decreed Iohannis did not have the right to overrule the justice minister’s call for Kovesi’s removal following allegations of misconduct and incompetence. Iohannis previously refuted the minister’s allegations and backed Kovesi, who is widely praised for her work investigating corruption among high-level officials. After her dismissal, Kovesi said “today’s episode is not a defeat – corruption can be defeated. Do not abandon the fight.”  Comment: The justice minister recommended Kovesi’s removal in February, accusing her of exceeding her authority and damaging Romania’s image. She has since moved on to become a prosecutor at an anti-organized crime agency. (Romania Insider, AP 1, 2, Reuters, NY Times)

TURKEY: Erdoğan sworn in with new powers


On Monday, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was sworn in as president for a five-year term under a new constitution that gives the Turkish president sweeping new executive powers. The post of prime minister is abolished, and the president may now select a cabinet, issue decrees, and prepare the budget. On the same day, Erdoğan appointed a new 16-member cabinet, naming his son-in-law to the position of treasury and finance minister. Comment: In a speech at his swearing-in ceremony, Erdoğan said “we are leaving behind the system that has in the past cost our country a heavy price in political and economic chaos.” Erdoğan’s critics say that the presidency amounts to one-man rule and that his new executive powers give him too much control. (Hurriyet Daily News, Reuters, AP, NY Times

UNITED KINGDOM: Top ministers resign over Brexit deal

On Sunday night, Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned alongside Brexit minister Steve Baker, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson following the next day; the three resigned in protest of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy. May’s position, which allows the free movement of goods but not services, makes it possible to avoid checks at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK. The three former ministers oppose the current deal, instead favoring a clean break with the EU that involves no customs unions. Comment: Johnson said in his resignation letter that May’s plan to keep economic ties with the bloc means that the UK is heading for a “semi-Brexit” that will leave the nation with the “status of colony” within the EU. May’s supporters worry that more ministers may resign, which could upend her Brexit plan and trigger a no-confidence vote. (BBC 1, 2, AP, NY Times)

Researched/Written by Abby Fram

This week in the Middle East & North Africa

PALESTINE: Israel closes border crossing


On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu closed the Karam Abu Salem border crossing with the exception of humanitarian aid into Gaza, such as wheat and flour. In addition, the Israeli military will shrink the fishing zone for Gaza residents from nine miles offshore in the Mediterranean Sea to six miles. This decision is in retaliation to the floating of incendiary kites to Israeli by Palestinians; Netanyahu also promised to continue enforcing heavy-handed measures against Hamas, the Palestinian militant group controlling Gaza.  Comment: Hamas condemned this decision, describing it as a “crime against the people of Gaza.” (Al Jazeera, BBC, Ynet)

                                                                                         Researched/Written by Nida Kuruvilla

SYRIA: Army lays siege on Deraa following surrender deal with rebels


On Monday, the Syrian army and allied forces laid siege to Deraa, a rebel-held city where the uprising against President Assad began in 2011. With this siege, the army consolidated control over Syria’s border with Jordan. Since the surrender deal on July 6, the rebels of the Free Syrian Army surrendered most of their territory and heavy arms to the government. Comment: On Friday, Russian officers and rebel leaders reached a surrender deal that covered the city of Deraa and its surrounding towns. The deal allowed some fighters to move to Idlib and other rebel-held areas, but according to rebel leaders, the recent siege is in breach of the surrender deal. (Al Jazeera, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)


                                                                                         Researched/Written by Kritika Kapoor

TUNISIA: At least six dead in violent ambush

On Sunday, Islamist militants killed at least six Tunisian police officers in the northwest region of the country, near the Algerian border. Attackers launched a grenade at a patrol car before a “confrontation with firearms” occurred, resulting in the deaths of numerous security force members. The nation’s interior ministry reported six casualties, while local news agency TAP put the death toll at nine; either number would make this the deadliest attack on Tunisian soil since 2015. Comment: Since the self-proclaimed Islamic State carried out a series of attacks in Tunisia in 2015, government representatives have upheld a constant state of emergency in the North African nation, an act which allows the government greater control in combating violent extremism. (TAP, Al Jazeera, Reuters)

                                                                                           Researched/Written by Matan Ayash

This week in South Asia

AFGHANISTAN: Pompeo promises support to Afghan-led peace process


On Monday, Mike Pompeo made his first visit to Kabul as U.S. Secretary of State, where he declared that President Trump’s strategy in Afghanistan was showing progress. He expressed optimism for peaceful elections this fall and emphasized the need for the peace process to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. Pompeo noted the Taliban’s declining military capacity and urged the Islamist group to negotiate with President Ashraf Ghani’s government. Comment: President Donald Trump’s South Asia strategy, announced last year, involves sending more troops to pressure the Taliban and taking a “conditions”-based approach, rather than a “timeline”-based approach to winning the 17-year long war in Afghanistan. The Taliban has so far rejected talks with Ghani’s government, instead seeking direct negotiations with the U.S. (NBC News, USA Today, Reuters)

INDIA: Protests against India’s counterinsurgency operation leads to clashes


On Tuesday, government forces in Kashmir fired at protesters, injuring at least 20 people. Residents chanted anti-India and pro-rebel slogans and threw stones at Indian troops in order to disrupt a counterinsurgency operation. Officials said the operation killed two rebels and injured an Indian soldier and an army officer. This fighing follows a similar incident on Saturday, when clashes between protestors and Indian paramilitary forces resulted in three civilian deaths. Comment: The death anniversary of popular rebel commander Burhan Wani provoked protests across Kashmir in support of anti-India rebels. Meanwhile, at the Security Council on Tuesday, India’s representative to the UN dismissed the organization’s recent human rights report that urges an investigation into human rights violations in Kashmir as biased and based on unverified sources. (ABC, Al Jazeera, Economic Times)

PAKISTAN: Nawaz Sharif sentenced to 10 years of prison for corruption

On Friday, an accountability court in Islamabad sentenced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to 10 years of prison for corruption charges. The court also sentenced Sharif’s daughter and political heir, Maryam, to seven years and her husband to one. The prosecution lawyers said that the verdict proves that the family used corruption money to buy luxury apartments in London. On Tuesday, the government placed Sharif and his daughter on an exit control list (ECL) to prevent them from leaving the country once they return from London. Comment: Nawaz Sharif was ousted when the Supreme Court began corruption investigations into him and his family following the 2016 Panama Papers leaks. This is a major political setback for Sharif, his family, and his party in light of the Pakistani general elections scheduled for July 25. (Reuters, CNN, The Hindu, BBC)

                                                                                          Researched/Written by Kritika Kapoor

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