CrisisWatch N°150 | Tracking Conflict Worldwide
| (01 Feb 2016)
The month saw an intensification of Yemen’s war, amid heightened regional rivalries between Saudi Arabia and Iran complicating prospects for peace. Political tensions increased in Haiti, Guinea-Bissau and Moldova, where protests over endemic corruption and a lack of confidence in the government could escalate. In Africa, Boko Haram’s deadly attacks increased in northern Cameroon, and Burkina Faso was hit by an unprecedented terror attack. On the nuclear front, in East Asia, North Korea’s announcement that it had carried out a successful hydrogen bomb test was roundly condemned, while nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were rolled back in accordance with the July 2015 deal.
In Yemen, violence increased as the Saudi-backed coalition intensified its air campaign, mostly targeting the capital city Sanaa, in response to cross-border incursions and rocket attacks by the Huthi/Saleh bloc. The Huthis continued to carry out a devastating siege of the southern city of Taiz, where both sides routinely use heavy weapons in civilian areas. Amid heightened regional tensions following Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on 2 January, UN-sponsored talks scheduled for 14 January were delayed as both sides made new demands for restarting negotiations. Lawlessness and the expansion of jihadist groups continued to plague the south, particularly Aden, where ten people were killed in a car bomb outside the security chief’s home on 17 January and eleven in a suicide bombing outside the presidential palace on 28 January. Crisis Group has called for all sides to prepare for substantive talks that produce agreement on a comprehensive ceasefire, and for free, unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid and commercial goods to war-torn areas.
Elsewhere political tensions heightened. Moldova’s capital Chisinau was rocked by protests over corruption and demands for early elections, highlighting severe discontent which could worsen if protesters’ demands are not met. Haiti’s presidential run-off election, originally planned for 24 January, was postponed for the second time amid growing concern over a series of violent protests by opposition supporters, and disagreement over the validity of last year’s legislative and presidential polls.
In Guinea-Bissau, the struggle within the ruling party (PAIGC) between the dominant faction led by former Prime Minister Pereira and the coalition around President Vaz worsened, almost causing an institutional crisis. Following Prime Minister Correia’s failure in December to win a parliamentary majority for his government’s program, the PAIGC averted a second defeat, which would have led to the dissolution of government, only after replacing fifteen dissident MPs. Parliament adopted the plan on 28 January in a second vote boycotted by the leading opposition Party for Social Renewal (PRS).
Elsewhere in West Africa, deadly Boko Haram attacks intensified in northern Cameroon, with 25 separate attacks, which left at least 88 killed and some 100 injured. In Burkina Faso, 30 civilians, most of them foreigners, were killed in an unprecedented terrorist attack on 15 January claimed jointly by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Mourabitoun, an AQIM splinter group. In the north, jihadi groups are also suspected to have attacked gendarmes near the border with Mali and kidnapped an Australian couple.
Tensions rose in East Asia following North Korea’s claim that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb at the country’s underground testing facility on 6 January – although many governments, while condemning the move, expressed scepticism over the claim. On a positive note, the UN, U.S. and EU lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed on 16 January that the country had honoured its commitments under the July 2015 nuclear deal.
January 2016 TRENDS*
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Korean Peninsula, Yemen
February 2016 WATCHLIST
Conflict Risk Alert
Conflict Resolution Opportunity
*NOTE: CrisisWatch trends 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.