PSR: July 20, 2018

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This week in Peace & Security, brought to you every Friday
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July 14 – July 20
This week in IPSI news:
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Sarajevo Symposium heads into last weekend

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DC Symposium heads into second week

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Stabilization 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

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: Former vice president nominated as presidential candidate


On Friday, the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo appointed former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba as their candidate for upcoming presidential elections scheduled for December. Last month, the International Criminal Court reversed a conviction against Bemba for several counts of war crimes. Currently, Bemba is awaiting sentencing on a separate witness tampering charge, which could prevent him from getting back to Congo before the August 8 deadline to register his candidacy. Comment: Current President Joseph Kabila has been in power since 2001 despite exceeding the two-term presidential limit that should have ended his presidency in 2016; a constitutional clause allows him to remain in office until a new president is elected. Bemba has the name recognition and popularity, especially in western Congo and the capital of Kinshasa, to challenge Kabila’s tight grip on the presidency. (Africa News, France24, Reuters, Al Jazeera)

IVORY COAST: President declares creation of new umbrella party

Ivory Coast

On Monday, President Alassane Ouattara announced the establishment of a new umbrella party in the hopes of ensuring a peaceful transition of power following the 2020 elections. According to Ouattara, the current ruling coalition, Houphouetists Rally for Democracy and Peace, is set to transition into an official political party. The president further stated that he will not seek re-election as the leader of the newly established party, ending years of speculation regarding his future plans. Comment: Due to rising tensions within the government, the Democratic Party (PDCI) has reservations about joining the umbrella alliance despite being a member of the current ruling coalition. Ouatarra urged PDCI to join the newly formed party, stating that unity is in the best interest of the country. (France24, Reuters, News24)

MALI: Attackers kill 14 in northeastern village

On Sunday, assailants shot and killed 14 civilians in a northeastern Malian village near the country’s border with Niger. The gunmen came into the village and opened fire on the residents, resulting in the deaths of numerous people and the destruction of four vehicles. The mayor of the increasingly unstable Menaka region, Nanou Kotia, has not stated who he believes to be responsible for this latest act of aggression. All of the victims were Tuareg pastoralists, who have long had a hostile and violent relationship with Fulani herdsmen, although Islamist militants have been known to take advantage of the ethnic tensions by carrying out attacks of their own. Comment: Earlier in the week, the UN released a report asserting that inter-communal clashes resulted in nearly 300 civilian deaths this year. This recent spike in violence threatens the viability and credibility of the presidential election slated for July 29. (Reuters 1, 2, Sunday Times, Washington Post)

Researched/Written by Matan Ayash


Symposiums - 27.03.18

This week in the Americas & Caribbean

HAITI: Prime minister resigns prior to no confidence vote


On Saturday, Haitian Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned prior to a no-confidence vote against him regarding lowered fuel subsidies that had triggered violent protests throughout the country. That same day, President Jovenel Moise publicly addressed the nation on the National Television of Haiti where he announced Lafontant’s resignation and promised to continue working with different sectors in Haiti to form an inclusive government. Moise emphasized that the new government would focus on infrastructure development and job creation. Comment: The riots are occurring in response to price hikes making fuel access difficult for the 59 percent of the nation that lives on USD 2.41 per day. Meanwhile, the wealthiest 20 percent of the nation receives about 93 percent of the fuel subsidies, according to a report last year from the World Bank. All embassies in Haiti closed and airlines suspended all flights to Haiti in response to the riots. (BBC, NPR, Reuters, The Haitian Times)

                                                                                            Researched/Written by Nida Kuruvilla

NICARAGUA: Ten more die in government raid


On Sunday, at least ten more people died during clashes between pro-Ortega security forces and anti-Ortega protestors when security forces raided opposition hotspots as part of the government’s “Operation Clean-up” campaign. The day before, government forces conducted an hours-long raid on a church near the National Autonomous University of Managua, and the dozens of students present were only able to leave after Catholic bishops intervened. According to the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights, six protestors and four riot police officers died on Sunday, and more than 300 people have died in the past three months because of the protests. Comment: While human rights groups claim that the Nicaraguan national government uses the crackdowns to repress the general public, the government claims that the violence is not one-sided and cites the presence of homemade mortars at protests as evidence of protestors also engaging in violence. (BBC, Reuters, Today Nicaragua 1, 2)

                                                                                            Researched/Written by Nida Kuruvilla

PERU: Officials arrest over 50 in drug bust at Colombian border

On Monday, Peruvian authorities arrested 51 people, the majority Colombian, in an operation against drug trafficking in an area along the Peru-Colombia border where dissident FARC rebels have reportedly taken refuge. The bust was carried out a day after Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra announced a 60-day state of emergency for the province of Putumayo, where the raid took place and where FARC rebels recently attacked Ecuadorian security forces. On a visit to the region, President Vizcarra said that four drug production facilities had been found; Defense Minister Jose Huerta called it the biggest drug bust on Peru’s northern border. Comment: Peru has said it fears dissident former FARC members are trying to establish presence on its border with Colombia and Ecuador. Although FARC signed a peace deal with Colombia in 2016, about 1,200 fighters refused to stop fighting and are currently trafficking drugs, according to Colombian authorities. (Peru Reports, BBC, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Abby Fram

This week in East Asia & Pacific

INDONESIA: Armed standoff ends with three suspects dead


On Saturday, Indonesia’s counter-terrorism unit Densus 88 killed three suspected terrorists in Yogyakarta after the two sides engaged in a shootout. Earlier in the day, police had been following the three suspects, as well as a fourth who escaped during the shootout, after the suspects attacked police with sharp weapons and firearms, according to National police spokesman Mohammad Iqbal. Iqbal and the police believe all four men are affiliated with the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, a network of ISIS-sympathizers operating in Indonesia. Comment: There have been several ISIS-related attacks in the country in the past few months. In May, family suicide bombings in Surabaya killed around 30 church goers, and earlier that month a riot occurred at the Brimob detention center in which ISIS supporters held police officers hostage and tortured them. Police believe that ISIS is recruiting those who are dissatisfied with their lives within Indonesia, and that this latest shooting standoff may inspire ISIS sympathizers to retaliate. (Reuters, Tempo, The Strait Times, XinhuaNet)

KOREA: North Korean restaurant manager claims defection was coerced


On Sunday, former North Korean restaurant manager Ho Kang-il claimed in an interview with Yonhap News Agency that South Korean’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) had lured and blackmailed him and several waitresses he worked with into defecting. Ho and the waitresses, who also claim they were forced to leave, were working in a state-run North Korean establishment in Ningbo, China in 2016 before they defected. Ho asserted that the NIS initially promised him and his team employment in a Southeast Asian nation if they defected, but became coercive when Ho hesitated on the offer, threatening to expose his conversations with the NIS to the North Korean embassy if he did not cooperate. Comment: Ho’s comments match with UN Special Rapporteur Tomas Quintas’ comments on July 10, when Quintas said that South Korea should thoroughly investigate the issue, as both the defectors and the North Korea government assert that it was a kidnapping. The South Korean government claims that all North Korean defections are voluntary, with more than 30,000 defectors fleeing in the last two years alone. (BBC, Hankyoreh, The Chosun Ilbo,  Yonhap News Agency)

PHILIPPINES: ISIS-affiliated leader’s wife arrested, bomb-maker dead

On Monday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippines National Police arrested Nafisa Pundog and killed suspected bomber Najib Pundog in separate raids in the south of the country. Nafisa Pundog is the wife of Abu Dar, who allegedly became the new leader for the Islamic State in Southeast Asia in March. She had been hiding for two years since her escape from prison, but Duterte ordered both her arrest and that of and Najib Pundog when he imposed martial law in Mindanao in response to a battle in the city of Marawi which began in May of 2017. Comment:  Over 1,100 people died during the five-month conflict in Marawi, which ended after police killed militant leader Omarkhayam Maute and the previous Islamic State in Southeast Asia leader Isnilon Hapilon. (GMA News Online, Manila Bulletin, Rappler, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Nida Kuruvilla

This week in Europe & Central Asia

HUNGARY: Country pulls out of UN migration pact


On Wednesday, Hungary’s government announced it would be quitting a UN global agreement on migration just days after the accord was reached Friday, calling it “a threat to the world.” Hungary and the United States will be the only countries in the UN not committing to the agreement, called the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The agreement is the first of its kind to lay out international standards for UN countries to address migration. Comment: Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the right-wing nationalist who leads Hungary, decided the country would not be signing the final document. Hungary’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that the pact is “entirely against Hungary’s security interests,” and that it is “in conflict with common sense and also with the intent to restore European security.” (Daily News Hungary, NY Times, Al Jazeera, Reuters)

TURKEY: State of emergency ends after two years amid new anti-terrorism bill proposal


On Wednesday, the Turkish government announced the end of a nationwide state of emergency that was imposed after a failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016; however, Erdogan’s critics say that a new draft anti-terrorism law proposed Monday is just as oppressive as the state of emergency and will give the president further authoritarian powers, including the powers to hold detainees in prison and dismiss civil servants linked to terrorism. The bill would also allow Turkish authorities to impose security measures outside the state of emergency rule, and to retain some measures of the state of emergency for three more years. Comment: The state of emergency, which was extended seven times, allowed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to issue emergency decrees and dismiss public officials, legal professionals and academics it suspected of having terrorist links, mainly to the group the government believes to have orchestrated the coup – the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FTO.). It also closed over 1,500 media institutions and non-governmental organizations. (Hurriyet Daily News, BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters)

UNITED KINGDOM: Man convicted of plotting to kill prime minister

On Wednesday, a British man loyal to the Islamic State was found guilty of plotting to kill Prime Minister Theresa May. Authorities arrested the 20-year-old man in November after he attempted to collect a backpack full of explosives from an undercover police officer, who had been posing as an Islamic State militant and talking to the man through a private messaging app. Before his arrest, the man told the undercover agent, “I want to do a suicide bomb on Parliament. I want to attempt to kill Theresa May.” Comment: The man was arrested alongside another British citizen who was accused of preparing acts of terrorism by traveling to Libya to join the Islamic State group. (AP, NY Times, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Abby Fram

This week in the Middle East & North Africa

EGYPT: Parliament passes new law protecting senior military officials


On Monday, the Egyptian parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a law protecting senior military officials from future prosecution for acts committed following the 2013 overthrow of former President Mohamed Mursi. The new law gives President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the power to grant high-ranking security officers immunity from any future investigations into possible crimes committed between July 2013 and January 2016. The selected officers will also gain lifetime reserve status and extensive diplomatic privileges. Comment: During the period immediately following Mursi’s ouster, authorities killed more than 1,000 protesters and arrested tens of thousands more. Critics of the new law assert that it is Sisi’s latest attempt to strengthen his inner circle and further entrench his position within the Egyptian government. (Reuters, BBC, Jerusalem Post)

                                                                                             Researched/Written by Matan Ayash

GAZA / ISRAEL: Deadliest fighting since 2014 war leaves two Palestinians killed and four Israelis wounded


On Saturday, two Palestinians were killed and 14 injured in an Israeli airstrike while four Israelis were wounded by mortar fire from Gaza. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Hamas and allied militant groups fired over 200 projectiles into Israel since Friday – the Israeli army responded with the largest airstrike campaign since the 2014 war. On Sunday, both sides agreed to an Egypt-mediated ceasefire, with the IDF lifting its restrictions along the Gaza border the same day. Comment: After incendiary balloons were sent over the Palestine-Israel border the day after the ceasefire, Israel suspended fuel deliveries to the Gaza strip until Sunday, June 22. Israeli aircraft also bombed two Hamas posts in retaliation. (Haaretz, NY Times, BBC, AP)

                                                                                                 Researched/Written by Abby Fram

IRAQ: Protesters storm Kuwait-run natural gas field to demand more jobs in Basra

On Monday, around 200 protesters blocked the main entrance to the Siba natural gas field, a major natural gas field in the southern region of Basra, demanding jobs from the Kuwaiti company that runs it. The demonstrators also stormed the international airport in the city of Najaf, temporarily halting air traffic. Clashes between protesters and security forces killed eight people. Comment: In their second week of protesting, demonstrators across southern Iraq are demanding better access to electricity, clean water, and jobs. Saddam Hussein and subsequent governments have neglected the development of Basra, an oil hub and a Shia heartland. (Reuters, Al Jazeera, CNN)

                                                                                            Researched/Written by Kritika Kapoor

This week in South Asia

INDIA: Government bans 30 television channels that “encourage violence” in Kashmir

On Wednesday, the government of the state of Jammu and Kashmir banned 30 television channels and gave cable TV operators three days to end broadcasts. Most of the now-banned channels are based in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia and allegedly have the “potential to encourage violence and disturb the law and order situation.” The Central Information and Broadcasting Ministry urged the state governor to make the decision. Comment: Amid deteriorating security conditions, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is under governor’s rule since the resignation of its chief minister Mehbooba Mufti in June. Mufti initiated the ban in May when she asked the police to stop the broadcast of these channels. (Times of India, Hindustan Times,

NEPAL: Nationwide protests against government to begin on Friday


On Tuesday, Nepal’s main opposition party, the Nepal Congress (NC), announced at its headquarters in Sanepa that protest would begin on Friday against the “authoritarian” tendencies of the government. NC will stage demonstrations across 77 districts including the capital, to urge the government to hear the demands of medical sector activist Dr. Govinda KC. At 61 years old, KC’s health is deteriorating due to a hunger strike that he began on June 30th. Comment: In January of this year, the Supreme Court passed a number of rulings in favor of private medical colleges that have unregulated affiliations with national medical standards. This is Dr. Govinda KC’s eleventh hunger strike against government collusion with Nepal’s so-called medical sector “mafia”. (The Kathmandu Post, Observer Research Foundation, Setopati)

PAKISTAN: Suicide attack kills 149 in Balochistan campaign rally


On Friday, a suicide bomber attacked a campaign rally in Balochistan, killing 149 people, including children and a local candidate. On Sunday, political leaders observed a day of mourning for the victims of the bombing, which is considered the second deadliest attack in the history of Pakistan. Pakistan’s faction of the Taliban claimed responsibility for this and another attack in the town of Bannu on the same day that killed four people. Comment: Militant attacks are increasing across the country in the run up to July 25 elections, which will be the second democratic transition of power in Pakistan’s history. Balochistan is a sparsely populated region to the northwest of Pakistan, home to an ongoing separatist insurgency. (BBC, Human Rights Watch, Dawn)

                                                                                             Researched/Written by Kritika Kapoor

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