Deteriorated Situations: Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Kashmir, Turkey, Yemen. July saw a worsening of the situation in Yemen, where nearly 2,000 civilians have been killed since the war started in March, while in Turkey a dramatic escalation in violence led to the collapse of the state's two-year-old ceasefire with Kurdish insurgents
July saw a worsening of the situation in Yemen, where nearly 2,000 civilians have been killed since the war started in March, while in Turkey a dramatic escalation in violence led to the collapse of the state's two-year-old ceasefire with Kurdish insurgents, and the launch of attacks on Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) positions in Syria. Meanwhile, a surge in clashes in Kashmir aggravated tensions between India and Pakistan, attacks by IS-linked militants escalated in Egypt, and Cameroon and Chad were both targeted by deadly and potentially destabilising Boko Haram raids and bombings. In contrast, the Colombian government and FARC rebels took steps to bring the peace process back on course after a series of setbacks, and South Sudan is faced with a unique chance to negotiate an end to its devastating conflict. Lastly, the nuclear agreement reached between the P5+1/EU3+3 and Iran in mid-July, provided it is approved by lawmakers on all sides, could mark a historic victory for diplomatic efforts in the face of entrenched global security challenges.
The conflict in Yemen deepened despite hopes for a Ramadan ceasefire. The UN-announced civilian death toll approached 1,900 as of 28 July, with 202 deaths in the previous twelve days and humanitarians warning of an impending famine. In mid-July, anti-Huthi/Saleh fighters backed by the Saudi-led coalition launched a major military offensive, retaking Aden and surrounding areas. In turn, the Huthis threatened a significant military operation in response to increased airstrikes. Absent a concerted diplomatic push for compromise between the warring parties, this latest offensive risks fuelling and prolonging Yemen's violent war.
The fragile 2013 ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) collapsed following a dramatic increase in violence in Kurdish areas in the south east, and on 24 July Ankara started bombing PKK positions in northern Iraq. After a suicide bomb attack in Suruç near the Syrian border on 20 July, which left 32 people dead and was blamed on the Islamic State, Ankara launched airstrikes on IS positions in Syria on 25 July. Framing its actions against the PKK and IS as a "synchronised fight against terror", the government, which also opened its bases to U.S.-coalition led forces fighting IS, has significantly scaled up Turkey's involvement in the Syrian conflict, while PKK-related violence looks likely to worsen. ?
Elsewhere, militant violence in Egypt continued to escalate following the late June assassination of the general prosecutor, with authorities launching airstrikes in the aftermath of deadly attacks by IS-linked militants in Sinai. Also, Nigeria's Boko Haram (BH) militant sect launched several deadly attacks in neighbouring Chad and Cameroon, and the Line of Control dividing Kashmir and the Working Boundary dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir witnessed a surge of clashes.
In a positive step forward, a conflict resolution opportunity emerged in South Sudan after months of stalemate. On 24 July, regional and international actors including IGAD, the African Union, the UN, China, and the U.S. endorsed a draft peace agreement for South Sudan's ongoing conflict. In a new report "Keeping Faith with the IGAD Peace Process", Crisis Group called for the international community to support a realistic, regionally centred strategy to end the war, underpinned by coordinated threats and inducements.
Meanwhile, Colombia's peace process re-emerged from its deepest crisis yet as the FARC announced a new temporary, unilateral ceasefire starting 20 July, and the government suspended its bombardments on guerrilla camps. This followed a joint announcement on 12 July to accelerate confidence-building measures and speed up the negotiations. In addition to these efforts, Crisis Group's new report argues that the government needs to broaden the social and political base of the talks, and reinforce the message that peace will benefit all Colombians.
After twelve years of crisis and 22 months of arduous negotiations, Iran and the P5+1/EU3+3 reached a historic agreement in Vienna on 14 July. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) establishes the most rigorous verification and inspection mechanism ever negotiated and rolls back one of the most extensive sanctions regimes ever imposed on any country. In a statement welcoming the agreement, Crisis Group calls for domestic parties in the U.S. and Iran to approve the deal, and to preserve momentum to ensure its implementation.
Improved Situations: Colombia
August 2015 Outlook:
Conflict Risk Alert: Turkey, Yemen
Conflict Resolution Opportunity: Iran, South Sudan
Download the full report CW/July/144