Tracking Conflict Worldwide
Outlook for This Month June 2014
Conflict Risk Alerts
Trends for Last Month May 2014
Conflict in Focus
On 22 May Thailand’s military seized power – having two days earlier declared martial law – dismissed the government and arrested hundreds of politicians, democracy activists and journalists. The coup followed several months of violent pro-and anti-government protests. On 7 May the Constitutional Court had sacked caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over alleged abuse of power in a move her party decried as a “judicial coup.
Libya is on the brink of a country-wide military confrontation. The General National Congress decided to back Ahmed Maiteeq as prime minister, despite controversy over the legality of his appointment. In response, retired army general Khalifa Hiftar launched a military operation against militant Islamists in Benghazi while his militia allies attacked parliament in Tripoli and ordered its suspension. Hiftar and federalist movement leaders Ibrahim Jedran refuse to recognize Maiteeq, who is widely seen as close to Misrata-based Islamists. The more radical Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia has vowed to fight Hiftar and accused the U.S. of supporting him.
Yemen’s security and economy deteriorated sharply. Al-Qaeda carried out several deadly attacks in retaliation for the government’s military offensive against it and its affiliates in the south. In early May President Hadi declared “open war” against the group, and vowed the government would expand its operations. Levels of violence also increased in the north where fighting between Huthis and various adversaries backed by government forces intensified in Amran. Tribesmen aligned with the Ahmar clan and the Sunni Islamist party Islah are now preparing for a major offensive around Amran city, just north of the capital Sanaa.
Tensions over maritime boundaries in the South China Sea intensified with China’s placement of an oil rig in disputed waters off the coast of Vietnam. Vessels from the two sides faced off, and a Vietnamese boat sank after colliding with a member of the Chinese fleet. Mass anti-China protests in Vietnam followed – China evacuated thousands of its citizens after two died and over 100 were injured. The dispute dominated the ASEAN forum in late May, where Vietnam and the Philippines protested what they see as China’s encroachment on their territories.
Escalating attacks in Kenya, including bombs in Nairobi and cross-border attacks – most likely by Islamist militant group al-Shabaab – killed at least 30 this month, putting UN and Western embassies on high alert. One of the group’s leaders, Fuad Mohamed Khalaf Shongole, threatened further attacks on Nairobi in revenge for Kenya’s continued presence in Somalia. Despite this, and repeated calls for withdrawal by the opposition, the Kenyan government announced it remains committed to its Somalia military campaign. Inter-clan violence in the north east continued to spread: dozens were killed in clashes between rival Somali clans over disputed boundaries and resources.
In Guinea-Bissau, record numbers voted in a peaceful presidential run-off election. José Mario Vaz from the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won with 61 per cent of the vote. Both candidates accepted the results; PAIGC and the main opposition Social Renovation Party (PRS) vowed to work together toward national reconciliation.
Political situation remained tense: head of human rights group APRODH Pierre Claver Mbonimpa 6 May said CNDD-FDD youth league “Imbonerakure” receiving weapons and paramilitary training in Congo; Mbonimpa arrested and jailed 15 May, charged with endangering state security. Opposition Movement for Solidarity and Development (MSD) president Alexis Sinduhije detained 1 May in Brussels as result of arrest warrant and request for extradition issued by govt following March confrontation between MSD supporters and police; released 6 May. Political actors, parties met 20 May to discuss implementation of March 2013 electoral roadmap.
Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram (BH) attacks near Nigerian border continued including attack on gendarmerie in Fotokol early May, senior BH leader Aladji Moustapha freed. BH 16 May attacked Chinese construction company near Waza, killed 1 soldier, reportedly abducted 10 Chinese workers. President Biya agreed to step up regional security cooperation, 17 May declared war against BH at security summit in Paris, 22 May met Chad President Deby to discuss concerted actions; 900 troops deployed to Far North 25-26 May. Cross-border attacks from CAR continued despite presence of international and national security forces: 18 abducted 2 May close to Garoua Boulai; govt 5 May said abductees freed by security forces.
Central African Republic
Attacks, several involving armed herders, multiplied in NW and centre including 55 killed early May near Paoua, 30 in Markounda, thousands displaced. Clashes between anti-balaka and Seleka increased in centre: at least 22 killed in Mala early May; 30 killed in Dekoa mid-May. Intense clashes between unidentified fighters and French troops close to Paoua 6 May. Sectarian violence continued in Bangui: violent anti-govt protests followed 28 May attack on church in Bangui that killed at least 17; 2 killed when peacekeepers opened fire. Leaders of different Seleka factions 9 May met in Ndélé, created interim political committee, formed military wing and appointed former regional commander Joseph Zindeko military chief; PM Nzapayéké strongly condemned outcome, accused Seleka of creating parallel security forces, attempting to divide country. French Defense Minister Le Drian 19 May visited Bangui, expressed opposition to partition. New Seleka Chief of staff Zindeko 20 May signed “confidence measures” pact with French peacekeepers to avert clashes with anti-balaka in Bambari. French troops in Bambari 22 May attempted to disarm Seleka, at least 1 killed in ensuing clashes with protesting crowds; 24 May responded to Seleka attacks, killed several. Anti-balaka leaders 15 May gathered in Bangui, elected Sébastien Wenezoui new militia coordinator; appointment contested by former chief Ngaissona. UN and U.S. 9 and 13 May respectively imposed sanctions on former CAR President Bozizé, anti-balaka leader Lévi Yakité, Seleka military leader Noureddine Adam; U.S. also imposed sanctions on former Seleka leader and transitional president Michel Djotodia and Democratic Front of the Central African Republic People (FDPC) leader Abdoulaye Miskine.