CrisisWatch | Tracking Conflict Worldwide
4 Jan 2016
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Global Trends and Opportunities – December 2015
The month saw an intensification of deadly violence in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, with over 80 people killed following clashes with security forces. The African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) made a welcome statement of intent to deploy forces to halt the slide toward civil war and mass atrocities. In Afghanistan, fighting raged between government and Taliban forces, particularly in Helmand province, while in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Niger, political tensions heightened. In a positive step forward, a peace deal was signed in Libya but uncertainties remain over the viability of the agreement. As stressed by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group, in today’s Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2016, it “should be seen as a beginning, not an end, to the peace process”.
In Burundi, violence dramatically escalated on 11 December with coordinated attacks on three military camps by unidentified armed insurgents in Bujumbura. The army announced 87 killed including eight members of the security forces, while other sources put the death toll at nearly 200. In the midst of a worsening humanitarian situation and to avert further violence, the AU decided to deploy a 5,000-strong AU Prevention and Protection Mission (MAPROBU). Crisis Group welcomes the AU’s decision and calls on all governments in the region and continent as well as the wider international community to provide full support to MAPROBU.
In Afghanistan, Taliban related attacks continued to spread. The deputy governor of Helmand said on 20 December the province was “on the brink” of Taliban takeover, while Sangin district has been reportedly taken. In early December, Taliban attacks in Kandahar left dozens killed, while clashes between Taliban factions in Shindand district left over 50 reported dead. Senior U.S. commander General John Campbell warned on 15 December of Islamic State (IS) activity in Jalalabad and Nangarhar. On 27 December, Pakistan army chief Raheel Sharif held talks in Kabul on ways to revive talks with the Taliban, amid heightened violence including insurgent attacks in Kabul.
In the Horn of Africa, political tensions increased. In Ethiopia, some 75 civilians and four police were reportedly killed in clashes, hundreds were injured and scores arrested in Oromiya region during demonstrations against the government’s plan to expand its capital, Addis Ababa. A grenade attack on the Grand Anwar Mosque in Addis Ababa on 11 December injured 24. Meanwhile, in Djibouti, President Ismail Omar Guelleh’s 3 December announcement of his candidacy for a fourth term was followed by a government crackdown on the opposition, with some 50 people arrested mid-month. Nineteen were reportedly killed on 21 December in a government raid on a religious gathering in Djibouti’s capital – the government has said nine were killed after its security forces came under attack. Tensions between government and opposition also increased in Niger ahead of presidential elections planned for February 2016. President Issoufou reported on 17 December that a coup attempt had been foiled, following the arrest of four high-ranking military officers, and several civilians including politicians and journalists. The alleged coup attempt occurred amid intensifying disagreement over the electoral process, and shrinking space for political opponents and journalists.
In Libya, representatives of Libya’s rival parliaments, the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) and the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC), signed on 17 December a UN-brokered agreement establishing a Government of National Unity headed by Prime Minister Faez Serraj. Uncertainties remain, however, over the level of support for the agreement, particularly as the leadership of both existing parliaments continue to oppose it. In a statement, Crisis Group warned international actors involved in the peace process who also intervened militarily in Libya in 2011 without a plan for the aftermath, not to repeat that mistake on the diplomatic front. Among other measures, plans for Libya’s future will need to ensure actors who did not initially sign onto the peace deal will have the opportunity to do so at a later date without sanctions, and that security and economic tracks with key stakeholders will be pursued as a priority.
Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger
January 2016 WATCHLIST
Conflict Risk Alert
Conflict resolution opportunities
*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.