| (01 Apr 2012)
In Mali military officers overthrew President Amadou Toumani Touré in a coup on 22 March. The takeover followed a mutiny demanding better weapons to fight the Tuareg rebellion advancing across the north. Throughout the month Tuareg rebels defeated government troops and pro-government militias in several northern towns, extending their reach to the key garrison town of Gao and reportedly Timbuktu. Responding to the coup, ECOWAS suspended Mali, ordered the military junta to relinquish power or face sanctions, and called on member states to provide military equipment and logistics to fight the rebellion. Following international pressure, the military junta announced on 1 April that they will reinstate the constitution. Crisis Group identifies a conflict risk for Mali.
Syria’s descent into all-out civil war continued. The Assad regime stepped up military operations on opposition strongholds and repression against civilians, as anti-regime protests spread to new areas. Activists reported massacres committed by security forces, and UN human rights chief Navi Pillay accused the regime of “systematically detaining and torturing children”. The regime has accepted the UN/Arab League special envoy Kofi Annans’ peace plan but serious doubts remain as to its implementation. Crisis Group also identifies a conflict risk for Syria.
Relations between Sudan and South Sudan deteriorated further. Their armed forces clashed at the Helgig oil field on the border, sparking fears of a return to war. Thus far attempts to initiate talks between Khartoum and Juba have met with little success, as each side accuses the other of cross-border attacks. In the north, Khartoum’s “scorched earth policy” in the Nuba Mountains threatens a humanitarian catastrophe. In the South, thousands of civilians fled continued violence in Jonglei state.
A series of deadly attacks and kidnappings, blamed on al-Qaeda militants, wracked Yemen’s south. The bloodiest episode was the storming of military bases near Zinjibar, where approximately 180 soldiers were killed and 70 abducted. UN envoy Jamal Benomar warned the instability was causing a growing humanitarian crisis, with 3 million people needing immediate assistance.
The rift between Islamists and secular parties in Egypt deepened. Five parties accused the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist al-Nour party of dominating the 100-member panel tasked with drafting a new constitution. Boycotting the panel they promised to establish a parallel body to produce their own document. Friction between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces also increased, with the Brotherhood threatening to topple the current government and warning of a second revolution if the military fails to relinquish power. It also announced it will contest the forthcoming presidential election, reversing its earlier decision not to put forward a candidate.
In Afghanistan U.S. soldier Robert Bales shot seventeen villagers including nine children in Kandahar’s Panjawi district, sending U.S.-Afghan relations to a new low. President Karzai called for NATO troops to halt field operations and remain in their bases.
Tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea intensified. Ethiopian troops attacked military bases in Eritrea, claiming they were being used to train insurgents operating in the Afar region. For its part, Eritrea accused Addis of trying to divert attention from the dispute over their common border, and called on the UN to take action against Ethiopia.
A first round of presidential elections in Guinea-Bissau saw Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior take the lead with 49 per cent of votes. Gomes’s opponents, however, including former President Kumba Yala, denounced fraud in the vote, and vow to boycott the run-off, scheduled for 18 April. The assassination of ex-spy chief Samba Djaló just hours after polling, combined with ex-army Chief of Staff Zamora Induta seeking refuge in the EU compound in Bissau, exacerbated fears of growing instability. Crisis Group identifies a conflict risk for Guinea-Bissau.
In Senegal former Prime Minister Macky Sall won a peaceful presidential election run-off, defeating incumbent Abdoulaye Wade. Deadly clashes ahead of the vote between police and protesters angry at Wade’s run for a contentious third term in office had sparked fears of violence. But Wade’s sound defeat and swift acceptance of results instead eased tensions, signaling the country’s democratic maturity.
Leaders of Bosnia’s six ruling parties on 9 March reached agreement on the disposition of military and state property. They thus fulfilled the last outstanding condition for the commencement of NATO’s Membership Action Plan, as well as for the closure of the Office of the High Representative.
March 2012 TRENDS
Afghanistan, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen
Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Caucasus (Russia), North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe
April 2012 OUTLOOK
Conflict Risk Alert
Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Syria
Conflict Resolution Opportunity
*NOTE: CrisisWatch indicators - up and down arrows, conflict risk alerts, and conflict resolution opportunities - are intended to reflect changes within countries or situations from month to month, not comparisons between countries. For example, no "conflict risk alert" is given for a country where violence has been occurring and is expected to continue in the coming month: such an indicator is given only where new or significantly escalated violence is feared.