Five actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and none improved in August 2010, according to the new issue of the International Crisis Group’s latest bulletin CrisisWatch 85
Deteriorated Situations: Bahrain, Kashmir, Kyrgyzstan, Northern Ireland, Somalia
Bahrain: Ongoing security crackdown ahead of 23 Oct parliamentary elections; 230 people reported arrested, including Shiite opposition leader Abduljalil al-Singace, charged 30 Aug with attempting to overthrow govt; govt said detainees arrested for security and terrorism violations, not for expressing dissident political views. Arrests fuelled almost daily sectarian clashes between security forces and Shiite opposition. Public prosecutor 27 Aug banned media from reporting on detentions. Sheik Ali Salman head of Wefaq society, largest Shiite bloc in parliament, 21 Aug said crackdown had “in one week destroyed 10 years of progress”. Second largest opposition party Islamic Action Society (Amal) 25 Aug voted to boycott Oct parliamentary elections, called for reform of country’s political system.
Kashmir: At least 40 demonstrators killed in clashes with police as anti-India protests continued; more than 63 killed since start of protests 11 June, worst since separatist revolt first broke out 1989; situation appeared to have calmed by end-month. India Home Minister Chidambaram 6 Aug alleged Pakistani involvement in demonstrations. 2 Lashkar-e-Taiba militants, 1 soldier killed in 16 Aug Rajouri district gun battle. Pakistan President Zardari criticised UK PM Cameron’s claim that Pakistan ignoring “home-grown” terrorism, made during early month visit to India.
Kyrgyzstan: Serious weakening of central govt after provisional President Otunbayeva failed to oust mayor of southern city of Osh, Melis Myrzakmatov, appointed by former President Bakiyev. Visiting Bishkek 18 Aug, Myrzakmatov stated govt directives have no jurisdiction in south. Despite official announcement 20 Aug that Myrzakmatov will step down, latter returned to Osh same day backed by Azimbek Beknazarov. In another challenge to govt authority, businessman Urmat Baryktabasov, charged with “attempting to seize power” in 2005, demanded PM post 5 Aug. Some 1,000 of his supporters demonstrated before parliament; several hundred prevented from entering capital. Protests dispersed after brief clashes with security forces, Baryktabasov and over 20 others detained on charges of planning coup. Continuing ethnic tensions as govt 1 Aug suppressed large-scale fight between Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek youth in Batken region. President Otunbayeva 5 Aug admitted security forces committed abuses against ethnic Uzbeks during June unrest. Govt 9 Aug lifted state of emergency in south, announced parliamentary elections will be held 10 Oct.
Northern Ireland: A Spate of bomb attacks throughout month in attempt by dissident Republicans to derail peace process. No-warning bomb 4 Aug injured 3 children in Lurgan, police called bomb “obvious attempt to kill police”; hours later police investigating 3 other bomb alerts in same area attacked with petrol bombs; 3 men arrested 25 Aug. NI security forces 4 Aug defused car bomb targeting army major in Bangor, first attack directly targeting army since March 2009. 200lb car bomb exploded outside Derry police station 3 Aug, following telephone warning by man claiming to represent Real IRA; suspected Continuity IRA member same day threw bomb at police station in Co Armagh.
Somalia: Fighting intensified in Mogadishu as al-Shabaab 23 Aug declared “new massive war” against internationally-backed govt, launching deadly attacks on MPs and AMISOM troops, while several killed in Puntland clashes. At least 80 killed and dozens injured during 23-30 Aug clashes triggered by al-Shabaab attacks on govt positions: al-Shabaab 24 Aug stormed Mogadishu hotel killing at least 35, including 6 MPs; 4 AMISOM peacekeepers killed 30 Aug during al-Shabaab shelling of presidential palace, 8 civilians killed, 25 wounded 31 Aug by roadside bomb. At least 10 suspected anti-govt militants killed 21 Aug as two separate explosive devices detonated prematurely; govt reported 3 Pakistanis, 2 Indians, 2 Afghans, 1 Algerian among dead. On Ethiopian border, 21 al-Shabaab killed 4 Aug during clashes sparked by govt attack on militia base. In semi-autonomous Puntland at least 30 Islamist militants led by Mohamed Said Atom and more than 5 govt troops killed during 5 days of clashes starting 8 Aug along northern coast; al-Shabaab continue to distance themselves from Puntland insurgents despite Atom’s pledged allegiance.
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Armenia/Turkey, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Chechnya (Russia), China (internal), Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Serbia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Conflict Resolution Opportunities
Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kosovo
CrisisWatch identifies a conflict resolution opportunity for Kosovo in September, as the EU makes intensive diplomatic efforts to produce a UN General Assembly resolution acceptable to both Serbia and Kosovo that could serve as a basis for a comprehensive settlement. The obstacles to resolving this conflict are formidable, not least because of the mutual suspicion and incompatible agendas of both sides. However, enough has changed recently, not least the development of more realistic attitudes in Belgrade and Pristina, to suggest that a solution is possible.
CrisisWatch also identifies a conflict resolution opportunity for Israel, as direct peace talks between Israel and Palestine – the first in almost two years – are due to restart in Washington on 2 September. However, the gap between the two sides’ positions remains large despite intense U.S. diplomatic pressure, and both have potentially disruptive domestic constituencies.