CrisisWatch N°107, 1 July 2012
In Pakistan, political turmoil worsened as the Supreme Court disqualified Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani following his contempt of court conviction for refusing to reopen a corruption case against President Zardari. Gilani’s departure deepened the standoff between the courts and the executive and legislative branches; a standoff that plays into the hands of the Pakistani military. Senior People’s Party (PPP) member Raja Ashraf was ultimately appointed new prime minister after an arrest warrant was issued against Gilani’s anointed successor, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, on charges brought by the military-dominated Anti-Narcotics Force.
The security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated with a series of militant bombings, including a Taliban assault on a hotel outside Kabul that killed ten. In Khost, a suicide bomber killed 21 at a checkpoint, including three U.S. soldiers. In Logar province, a NATO missile killed up to 18 civilians celebrating a wedding: President Karzai condemned the strike and NATO commander General Allen visited the area shortly afterwards to apologise.
Nagorno-Karabakh witnessed some of its worst violence in recent years with escalating clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops resulting in numerous casualties. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned tensions could escalate into broader conflict, while OSCE Chairman Eamon Gilmore has urged both sides against using force to resolve their long-running dispute.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern Kivu provinces saw increasing violence and displacement as the army continued to hunt April’s mutineers. Relations with neighbouring Rwanda deteriorated after reports emerged that top Rwandan government and army officials are backing the rebellion. Crisis Group identifies a conflict risk for the Congo.
In Paraguay, the removal of President Fernando Lugo by the Senate – ostensibly over the killing of seventeen people during land clashes – provoked widespread criticism. Neighbouring countries refused to recognise any new government led by Vice President Federico Franco and regional organisation UNASUR suspended Paraguay from the MERCOSUR common market. Lugo, meanwhile, has vowed to return to power.
Crisis Group identifies a conflict risk in Myanmar. Ethnic tensions flared in Rakhine State after the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman – blamed on an ethnic Rohingya Muslim – set off a chain reaction of riots and reprisal killings. The ensuing wave of ethnic violence has displaced some 90,000 people; the government has declare a state of emergency.
Violence continued unabated throughout Syria, with scores of civilians massacred and increasingly ferocious fighting between rebels and pro-regime forces, prompting the suspension of the UN observation mission amidst warnings of all-out sectarian war by UN/Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. The Syrian army’s downing of a Turkish fighter jet off the Syrian coast prompted Ankara to warn that Syrian military units approaching its border would be treated as a threat.