South Sudan

The parties to the South Sudan conflict all have their own ideas about what civil society is; and each party tends to believe the most legitimate civil-society representatives are those that think just as it does. Most recently, unresolved questions of what civil society is and what role it should play helped derail talks. The regional precedents are not encouraging, but there are still lessons to be learned from earlier peace processes.


In a DW interview, Graeme Smith, senior Afghanistan analyst for the International Crisis Group, says any significant delay in the electoral calendar will it make it harder for the US and NATO to reach a deal to keep troops in the country after the end of the year. It remains unclear whether both the candidates will accept the final election results.

DW: What do the current preliminary results mean for the electoral process?

Graeme Smith: This means that Ghani’s team has successfully persuaded the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to release the preliminary results in a timely fashion. That was a key demand of the Ghani campaign, which wants the process to go ahead.

Syria Turkey

ŞENYURT, Turkey: Fleeing from fighting and hunger in north-eastern Syria a year and a half ago, Abdullah’s family found refuge in a crowded refugee camp in Turkey. Nine months later, his three-year-old son Mohammed caught meningitis. Fearing for the health of his other two children, Abdullah rented a room in a mud-brick house here in the small town of Şenyurt, joining the little-seen Kurdish minority among Turkey’s one million Syrian “urban refugees”.

Korean Peninsula

An increasingly prevalent issue in Seoul-Washington bilateral relations is wartime operational control (OPCON) of the South Korean military. When President Obama travelled to Seoul in April, he and President Park agreed that they would review Seoul’s request to postpone OPCON transition now scheduled for December 2015. A decision is expected by October 2014 when the two sides hold their annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in Washington, DC. OPCON transfer had been scheduled to occur in 2012, but the transition was delayed in 2010 in the wake of North Korea’s second nuclear test in May 2009 and the sinking of the ROK naval corvette Ch’ŏnan in March 2010.


Gathering round an embassy table in Ankara this month, a dozen European diplomats and Turkish academics met to brainstorm about their countries’ increasingly dysfunctional relationship. Turkey seems stuck in a perpetual European waiting room, theoretically there to negotiate entry into the EU. But both sides are becoming impatient and flirting with the idea of either bolting the door – in the case of Europe – or storming off, in the case of Turkey.


The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s decision to seek sanctions against Venezuelan officials allegedly involved in violence or human rights violations is problematic and may prove counterproductive. Sanctions will only reinforce the claims of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government that it is the victim of an imperialist plot. The sanctions are opposed not only by the two respected senators who sensibly voted “no”, but also by the principal Venezuelan opposition coalition, the Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD), and many independent Venezuelan leaders.

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Rarely has there been more progress in a single day toward settling a five-decades-old conflict than on 16 May. In the early morning hours, Colombia’s two guerrilla groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN), announced an “electoral” ceasefire to last from 20 to 28 May. This was followed in the afternoon by the confirmation that Havana-based peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC resulted in a preliminary agreement to “solve the problem of illegal drugs”. Coming just before the sharply contested presidential vote on 25 May, these two developments could have a significant short-term political impact and, one hopes, long-term humanitarian benefits.

South Sudan
Displaced civilians waiting for food distribution in opposition controlled territories, March 2014. CRISIS GROUP/ Casie Copeland

Fighting not Talking

Crisis Group’s Africa Program staff assembled this Q and A to provide an update on events in South Sudan. For background and further discussion see our most recent report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name, and the accompanying videos featuring Crisis Group analysts Casie Copeland and Jérôme Tubiana.

Suspected Somali illegal migrants and refugees arrested in a police swoop arrive at a holding station in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, 7 April, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Losing Hearts and Minds in Kenya

The round-up and mass detention of Somalis in Nairobi, which began in earnest on 31 March, deliberately conflated immigration issues with counter-terrorism and has widened dangerous communal divides. Al-Shabaab and its extremist allies in Kenya will be very satisfied. What the attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall last September failed to do – sow division among Kenyans – might well be achieved by these detentions and deportations. This month’s events brought out the worst in Kenya, from the prejudice shown, especially in social media, by ordinary citizens, to petty point scoring by the political class, to police extortion of bribes from lawfully resident Somalis, to the extrajudicial execution of the controversial Muslim preacher known as Makaburi (“graveyard”).

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    CrisisWatch interactive map provides busy readers in the policy community, media, business and interested general public with a succinct regular update on the state of play in all the most significant situations of conflict or potential conflict around the world.

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