CrisisWatch No. 155, 1 July 2016
Global Overview – Trends and Outlook
While an upsurge of crises continued to test the international order, amid growing mass displacement and the spread of transnational terrorism, the UK's divisive vote on 23 June in favour of leaving the European Union brought a new dimension to global political and economic uncertainty. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, President & CEO of the International Crisis Group, said: “the Brexit crisis increases the risk of an inward-looking EU consumed with sorting out its own problems at a time when the world needs a Europe that is globally engaged".
The month saw security deteriorate in several countries in Africa. In South Sudan fighting escalated and the peace deal threatened to unravel, while Boko Haram increased deadly attacks in Niger. Insecurity also rose in Nigeria’s Niger Delta where militants fighting for a greater share of the region’s oil revenues stepped up attacks on oil and gas facilities, and communal and criminal violence spiked in the Central African Republic. In Turkey, a terrorist attack believed to be the work of Islamic State killed more than 40 people on 28 June. In a significant step forward, Colombia’s government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed agreements bringing the 52-year armed conflict closer to an end.
In South Sudan, fighting erupted in several places and conflict parties failed to make progress in implementing the peace deal signed in August 2015, instead appearing to prepare for a return to war. Forces allied to the former rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition led by Vice President Riek Machar, launched attacks mid-month to demand places in the planned army integration or disarmament processes. Crisis Group has called on the peace guarantors to act urgently, ahead of the African Union summit on 10-18 July, to salvage the agreement and prevent the country from returning to full-scale war.
Meanwhile, in West Africa, armed violence in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta worsened and threatened to spread, while Boko Haram insurgents in the north east continued to attack security forces and civilians. These crises, alongside the killing of about 59 people by Fulani herdsmen on 18-19 June, painted a picture of deepening insecurity across the country. As Crisis Group argued in a new report “The Challenge of Military Reform”, if the government is to defend its citizens it needs to take action including an overhaul of the defence sector, drastically improving leadership, oversight and administration.
Niger also suffered deadly attacks by Boko Haram in south-eastern Diffa region on the border with Nigeria. On 3 June insurgents overran Bosso town on Lake Chad, killing 26 soldiers. Similar attacks were reported on 9 and 16 June against an army-held town and barracks. In the Central African Republic, violence spiked in several parts of the country in the first major deterioration in security since a newly elected government took office in April. In the capital, Bangui, clashes between Muslims and Christians on 11 June left four dead, and fighting hit the north west.
In Turkey a gun and suicide bomb attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on 28 June killed 44 people and injured over 200. The government said it believed Islamic State (IS) was responsible, with official sources reporting that the three attackers were from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia’s North Caucasus. The attack comes as the government continued its clampdown against domestic IS networks and stepped up measures to prevent IS rocket attacks from Syria and seal off a 70km stretch of the border. Meanwhile clashes between the Kurdish PKK insurgency and Turkey’s security forces continued in the south east, with fighting increasingly moving from urban to rural areas.
On a positive note, the Colombian government and FARC signed agreements on the “end of conflict” on 23 June, providing the strongest assurance yet that the 52-year conflict is finally coming to a close. The agreements spell out how the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities will work, as well as how FARC guerillas will put down their arms and transition to civilian life. The parties also agreed on how to hold a referendum to approve the final peace deal. Crisis Group commended the work of both delegations and those involved in the negotiations, and applauded the inclusion of victims in the talks.