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Tombs in a Muslim cemetery are silhouetted during sunset in the village of Karateren near the Aral Sea, in southwestern Kazakhstan, April 17, 2005.

Syria Calling: Radicalisation in Central Asia

Europe and Central Asia Briefing N°72, 20 January 2015

The Islamic State (IS) is attracting Central Asians to Syria and fostering new links among radicals within the region. Unless the five Central Asian governments develop a credible, coordinated counter-action plan, including improved security measures but also social, political and economic reforms, growing radicalism will eventually pose a serious threat to their stability.

Yemen Conflict Alert: Time for Compromise
Houthi fighters ride a truck near the presidential palace in Sanaa January 22, 2015. Yemen's Houthi rebels welcomed on Thursday proposed concessions by the government on power-sharing but their gunmen still held positions outside the residence of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who remains a virtual prisoner there. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)

27 January 2015: Yemen’s UN-backed transition has unravelled and the country has entered a new, highly unstable phase. On 22 January President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the prime minister resigned after Huthi fighters seized the presidential palace and consolidated control of the capital. This has upended the troubled transition and raises the very real prospect of territorial fragmentation, economic meltdown and widespread violence if a compromise is not reached soon. At this point, there is little external actors can do, with the possible exceptions of Saudi Arabia and Iran, to influence the calculus of Yemeni stakeholders, and the choice for the Yemenis is stark: either agree to an inclusive political settlement based on compromise, or suffer a descent into Libyan-style violent conflict and national fragmentation. It is in no party’s interest, with the exception of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and, to a lesser extent, some components of the southern Hiraak, to let things go that far.

DRC Protests: The Government’s Election Law Must be Revised – or Withdrawn
A burnt car sits on January 22, 2015 in Kinshasa on the fourth day of violent protests against President Joseph Kabila. AFP/PAPY MULONGO

23 January 2015: The adoption on 17 January 2015 by the Congolese National Assembly of a law, proposed by the government of President Joseph Kabila, that could lead to the extension of Kabila’s term in office has triggered violent protests in the capital of Kinshasa and several other cities. Before protests escalate further, Kabila’s government needs to revise the law and de-link the elections and the census, as was done today by the Senate in a bill that now goes back to the Assembly.

Colombia: The ELN’s Long and Slow March to Peace
Picture taken from a video posted on the National Liberation Front (ELN) guerrilla’s website “Portal Voces de Colombia” on 7 January 2015.

19 January 2015: .When the big moment finally came on 7 January, it was hard to avoid the feeling that an opportunity has been lost. Some two weeks after an enigmatic statement had promised a “special announcement”, a video posted on the website of the National Liberation Army (ELN) celebrated at length the Fifth National Congress of Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group. An accompanying “political declaration” ratified the ELN’s support for peace talks but lacked specific commitments. This was certainly an announcement but it did not seem all that special. Nonetheless, the outcomes of the Congress still represent valuable progress toward a definitive political settlement of the Colombian conflict.

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