| (01 Oct 2012)
In Mali Islamist rebels in the north made further advances, seizing the strategic town of Douentza. Meanwhile, the murder of a group of unarmed Muslim preachers in southern town Diabaly mid-month risks sparking a sectarian backlash and raises fears that the army, already showing signs of deep divisions and instability, may be splintering. ECOWAS pledged to send a 3,300-strong force to reclaim the north and secure the transitional government. But without measures to reduce Mali's inter-communal tensions and address northern grievances a military approach could backfire. The upheaval in Mali threatens to escalate further and endangers regional stability.
In Syria the level of violence and the numbers killed and displaced continued to climb. The new UN/Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met with interlocutors on both sides and Egypt launched a regional initiative aimed at ending the crisis. But amid international deadlock, an end to the escalating civil war still looks remote. As the regime stepped up military and aerial bombing campaigns against major cities and areas controlled by the opposition Free Syrian Army, a UN Human Rights Council-mandated commission reported that "gross violations of human rights" by regime forces and militias had significantly increased. Opposition groups also stand accused of human rights abuses.
Azerbaijan's pardon and promotion of Ramil Safarov, a soldier convicted of murdering an Armenian soldier during a NATO training event in Hungary in 2004, dealt a further blow to the already faltering Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. The amnesty raised tensions and sparked another bout of harsh rhetoric between the two countries, with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan again declaring his country ready for war with Azerbaijan. The EU, U.S. and NATO all condemned the pardon and expressed concern about its implications for the region.
The Japanese government's purchase of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea caused a bilateral crisis between Japan and China, which also claims sovereignty over the islands. Beijing struck back by publishing territorial sea baselines encircling the islands, deploying patrol vessels and fishing boats, staging military exercises, threatening economic sanctions and cancelling a high-level event celebrating forty years of Japan-China diplomatic ties. Dozens of Chinese cities saw mass anti-Japan protests.
Tension is rising in Venezuela ahead of what could be a tight presidential election next week between incumbent Hugo Chávez and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. Two opposition activists were killed at a campaign rally at the end of the month, raising fears of further violence during the vote and its aftermath.
In neighbouring Colombia, the peace process launched last month seems to be gathering pace, despite persistent hostilities between FARC and the government. Both sides reiterated their commitment to talks, and are expected to meet for a first round of negotiations in October.
September 2012 TRENDS
China/Japan, Mali, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Syria
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Caucasus (Russia), North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe
October 2012 OUTLOOK
Conflict Risk Alert
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.