Deteriorated Situations: Central African Republic, Israel/Palestine, Macedonia, Republic of Congo, South China Sea, Turkey. As armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere continued to inflict much suffering and instability around the world, the heads of the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross issued an unprecedented joint warning about the impact of today’s conflicts on civilians and called on states to redouble their efforts to find sustainable solutions to conflicts
Welcoming the call to action, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, President & CEO of the International Crisis Group, said: “It is imperative that the world do much more to respond to early warning signs and prevent wars breaking out in the first place”.
Other October trends saw Turkey’s republic faced with the deadliest attack in its history, and tensions and violence rising further around Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade. Deadly communal violence prompted the Central African Republic’s transitional government to delay elections until mid-December, and a referendum in Congo-Brazzaville, held amid a crackdown on the opposition, paved the way for the president to seek a third term. In Asia, tensions between China and the U.S. rose after an American warship sailed through disputed South China Sea waters. In a positive step for world peace, Iran’s July nuclear deal was formally adopted on 18 October.
Escalating tensions at Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade saw a surge in violence, triggered by revived Israeli limitations on Muslim entry to al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestinian stone-throwing at Israel security forces to prevent entry of religious Jews. Crisis Group is concerned that the rising violence that has spread across the rest of the West Bank and into Israel could worsen. In our June report on the Holy Esplanade we called for the status quo arrangement that has mostly kept the peace since Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 to be shored up to avoid a repeat of the unrest seen in mid-2014. The Jordanian-Israeli understandings mediated by the U.S. in October are a positive but partial step in that direction: they boost Jordan’s role at the site but address only the esplanade when the drivers of violence are broader, and they continue to exclude Palestinians from administering the esplanade.
A suicide bomb attack on 10 October on an Ankara peace rally in Turkey led by leftist groups and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) was blamed on the Islamic State (IS). Killing 102 people and injuring 240, the attack fed into growing tensions between the government and Kurdish political groups ahead of the 1 November repeat elections, and underlines the increased risk of further IS-related violence. Despite the insurgent Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)’s announcement of an “inaction” immediately following the bombing, the government pledged to continue military operations against the group. In the Balkans, there was increasing concern over the fate of the July EU-brokered agreement between Macedonia’s government and opposition to resolve the country’s political crisis, after talks on implementing the deal stalled.
In Asia, South China Sea tensions increased as a U.S. navy warship sailed within twelve nautical miles of an artificial island constructed on Subi reef, claimed and held by China, on 27 October. China’s defence ministry said a missile destroyer and a patrol vessel had warned the U.S. ship to leave. Its foreign ministry said the American warship had entered its waters “illegally” (although since the reef was originally submerged at high tide it would not be entitled to a twelve-nautical mile territorial sea). On 31 October the Chinese navy released photos of Chinese armed fighter jets training in the South China Sea.
In Africa, a number of countries witnessed election-related tensions and violence. In Congo-Brazzaville, the population overwhelmingly voted for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the two-term presidential limit, paving the way for President Nguesso to seek a third term. The move followed a violent crackdown on the opposition, and triggered a series of protests in late October. Meanwhile, the situation deteriorated in the Central African Republic where deadly communal violence left dozens dead in Bangui in September and October, and prompted the transitional government of transition President Samba-Panza to delay presidential and parliamentary elections until mid-December. In Crisis Group’s commentary “Avoiding an Electoral Flare-up”, we warned that armed groups were assembling and attempting to march on the capital, Bangui, to provoke violent confrontations, and we called for the elections to be held in 2016 so as to allow disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes to take place.
With its gruelling review in Tehran and Washington completed, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program was formally approved by all sides on 18 October. As such, July’s historic agreement became effective and the participants – the P5+1/EU3+3 and Iran – began implementing their commitments under the deal.
Improved Situations: Iran
Conflict Risk Alert November: Turkey
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