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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.

DRC Protests: The Government’s Election Law Must be Revised – or Withdrawn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.

10 Wars to Watch in 2015
10 Wars to Watch in 2015

The last year was a bad one for international peace and security. Sure, there were bright spots in 2014. Colombia’s peace process looks hopeful. The last round of Iran’s nuclear talks was more successful than many think. Tunisia, though not yet out of the woods, showed the power of dialogue over violence. Afghanistan bucked its history and has, notwithstanding many challenges, a government of national unity. President Barack Obama’s restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba can only be positive.

But for the most part, it has been a dispiriting year. Conflict is again on the rise after a major decrease following the end of the Cold War. Today’s wars kill and displace more people, and are harder to end than in years past.

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