The latest edition of Crisis Group's monthly conflict tracker highlights dangers of escalating conflict in Sri Lanka and Yemen. CrisisWatch also notes improved situations in China/Japan and Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan).
In October, a resurgent Taliban heavily disrupted Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections, and a constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka could trigger violence. A new initiative to start peace talks among Yemen’s warring parties offers hope for November. One of the protagonists, Saudi Arabia, drew fire after the tragic murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Political tension mounted in Guinea, Zimbabwe and Cameroon, where presidential elections deepened societal fractures. Deadly violence rose in neighbouring Chad, where the fight against Boko Haram intensified, eastern DR Congo, north east Angola, the Comoros Islands, in a territory disputed between Somaliland and Somalia, and at the Gaza-Israel border. In East Asia, criticism grew over China’s detention of mostly Uighur Muslims in mass internment camps, and strategic competition between the U.S. and China stepped up – while relations between Japan and China improved. Honduras faced more political instability. Hostilities worsened in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, and tensions grew in the Western Balkans and Russia’s North Caucasus. On a positive note, Armenia and Azerbaijan’s new communication channel to manage incidents on their border and in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone started operating.
In Asia, President Sirisena’s unexpected decision on 26 October to form a new government with controversial former President Rajapaksa without following established legal procedures plunged Sri Lanka into a constitutional crisis, provoking unrest and concerns over the progress of reforms and ethnic reconciliation. As we have stressed, to avert further violence and political unrest, the U.S., European Union, India and other international actors should continue to urge Sirisena to reconvene parliament to select a prime minister through legal channels. In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s killing of powerful Kandahar police chief General Abdul Raziq two days before parliamentary elections on 20 October showed rising Taliban strength, prompting concerns for security in the southern region and casting a shadow on the idea of peace talks.