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Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees - November 2014

Categories: Articles:Asylum & Refugees, Articles:Peacemaking | Published: 02/12/2014 | Views: 2155
4 actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and one improved in October 2014, according to CrisisWatch N°136. Deteriorated Situations: Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Kenya

Kenya an Al-Shabaab attack on a Nairobi-bound bus from Mandera on 22 November left 28 of the 60 passengers dead. The attackers deliberately targeted those passengers who were not Muslim or Somali. The government swiftly retaliated, with the Kenyan Defence Forces launching airstrikes on Al-Shabaab bases in Somalia and reportedly killing over 100 militants including, according to the government, the planners of the attack. Violence in Kenya's coastal region left six youths dead after around twenty attacked Nyali military barracks in Mombasa and an administration police post in Malindi on 3 November. Religious tensions mounted as throughout November police raided and closed four Mombasa mosques with alleged links to Al-Shabaab. Hundreds of youths were arrested during the raids. Three of the mosques have now reopened but tensions remain high. (See our recent report on Al-Shabaab in Kenya).

Egypt's deadliest militant group, the Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) in early November and changed its name to the Province of Sinai (Welayet Sina). The group continued targeting government forces, killing three soldiers and two policemen on 13 November. The next day it claimed responsibility for an attack in late October in which 33 soldiers were killed. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis' allegiance to IS could mark the widening of its insurgency campaign, which has thus far focused on military and police targets, and highlights the continuing challenge posed by militant groups to Egypt.

Colombia's government temporarily suspended peace talks with FARC pending the release of General Ruben Dario Alzate, an army lawyer and a corporal, kidnapped by the guerrilla group on 16 November. FARC liberated the three on 30 November, however despite their release the impact of this episode, the first time the talks were suspended, remains uncertain. FARC and some sectors of the opposition criticised the suspension of the talks, claiming the incident is a direct result of the government's insistence on negotiating without a ceasefire, while critics of the negotiations saw it as yet another indicator of FARC's lack of commitment to the peace process. Tensions were already high prior to the general's disappearance after two guards of the indigenous Nasa community in Cauca were killed by FARC militias on 5 November. (See our recent commentary on transitional justice and Colombia's peace talks).

Afghanistan the Taliban stepped up attacks on foreign targets in Kabul beginning in mid-November, with several suicide bomb strikes on housing compounds, as well as a British embassy vehicle. More than a dozen people were killed in the attacks. On 30 November, President Ashraf Ghani dismissed the sitting caretaker government, amid continued delays in forming a new unity government. Ghani predicted that a new cabinet would still take weeks to form, reflecting the difficulty of reaching compromises with the fractious array of supporters behind him and newly appointed Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. (See our recent report on Afghanistan's political transition).

Improved Situations

China/Japan
- Following months of preparatory meetings and backchannel diplomacy, China and Japan jointly issued a four-point agreement on improving relations on 7 November. In it, the two sides agree to acknowledge different stances on recent "tensions" over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. In reference to contentions over treatment of World War II history, it also vaguely states that the sides have reached some agreement on overcoming political obstacles. The communiqué paved the way for a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Beijing-hosted APEC summit on 10 November. The meeting is seen as a vital first step in thawing Sino-Japanese relations, and talks are expected to restart soon to establish mechanisms aimed at avoiding accidental clashes between the two countries' militaries at sea. (See our recent commentary on China-Japan relations)

December 2014 Outlook

Conflict Resolution Opportunity - None

Download the full report: CW136 

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