This week in Peace & Security, brought to you every Friday
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September 22 – September 28

This week in:

IPSI | Africa | Americas | East Asia | Europe & Central Asia | Middle East | South Asia


Over the past year, Creative Learning partnered with Creative Frontiers and CFx Comics to work with University students in Pakistan to create comic books relating to resilience and peacebuilding. Head to the IPSI Facebook Page for a short video about our Comics for Peace University Kick-Off event where we toured 9 Universities in Pakistan and engaged with over 1,000 students on peacebuilding and storytelling through comics. Stay tuned for sneak peaks of the final Comics!

This week in Sub-Saharan Africa

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: Concerns grow over latest Ebola outbreak


On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its strong concern over the worsening Ebola outbreak in DRC, which has killed at least 100 people thus far in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces. Peter Salama, the WHO’s head of emergency response, stated that a number of growing concerns converging over the next few weeks could lead to a “perfect storm” that will drastically exacerbate the Ebola crisis. Chief among concerns is the deteriorating security situation, as attacks by armed opposition groups have escalated in recent weeks. Comment: Due to the rapid spreading of the disease and the growing uncertainty stemming from safety issues, health officials worry that neighboring Rwanda and Uganda are now at risk. Despite the increasingly unstable environment, the WHO has no plans of evacuating the Congo in the midst of the current outbreak. (The Citizen, Reuters, UN, Vox)

MALI: At least 15 killed in attack on remote eastern village


On Tuesday, a group of armed men on motorcycles entered a remote desert village and killed at least 15 Tuaregs. The identity of the attackers remains unknown, but officials strongly believe that members of the Fulani ethnic group carried out the assault. Clashes between lighter-skinned Tuareg pastoralists and black Fulani herdsmen have plagued Mali since 2012, resulting in dozens of civilian deaths this year alone. Comment: The longstanding ethnic rivalry coupled with the widespread jihadist presence in Mali have created a dire security situation in the country. Recently elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has long vowed to make the deteriorating security situation his top priority. (EWN, Vanguard, Reuters)

TANZANIA: Government announces investigation into ferry disaster

On Monday, Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa announced the establishment of a special commission to further investigate last week’s ferry disaster in Lake Victoria that killed at least 227 people. A preliminary investigation discovered that the MV Nyerere capsized due to excess passengers, as more than 260 people crowded onto the ferry that had a 101-passenger capacity. Former Chief of Defense Forces, General George Waitara, will direct the committee, which is slated to complete its investigation within 30 days. Comment: Tanzanians use the ferry to travel between the Ukara and Bugorora Islands primarily for business-related purposes. President John Magufuli has ordered the construction of a bigger ferry to allow for continued travel in the region. (The Citizen, Daily News, AP, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Matan Ayash

This week in the Americas & Caribbean

NICARAGUA: Teen protester killed by police, dozens more detained


On Sunday, a teenager died after the paramilitary police force in Managua fired into a peaceful anti-government protest. At least six others were wounded and dozens were arrested. Protesters marched to demand the release of political prisoners in Nicaragua. They began marching Sunday morning and discovered that government sympathizers, riot police, and paramilitaries were at the route. Young children were also present, though no reports indicate they were physically harmed. Comment: Over 300 people have died and hundreds more have been arrested since the protests began in April denouncing President Ortega. In September, Ortega expelled the UN’s human rights delegation after their critical report of the country. (La Prensa 1, 2, AP, NPR)

UNITED STATES: 130 countries sign agreement to tackle world drug problem


On Monday, President Trump introduced the Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem and called on countries of the UN to address increasing cocaine and opium production. In his remarks, President Trump offered praise to Colombia’s new president Iván Duque for running on an anti-drug platform and also to his own cabinet members for their counter-narcotics efforts. The document, signed by 130 countries, includes a pledge to develop national action plans based on a four-pronged strategy: reducing demand, expanding treatment, strengthening international cooperation, and cutting supply. Over 60 countries declined to sign the pledge. Comment: The opioid crisis is a growing epidemic in the U.S. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates opioids were involved in almost 50,000 deaths in the past year. In March, President Trump unveiled a nationwide plan to address the crisis. (CBS, USA Today, Reuters, The Independent)

REGIONAL: Six countries formally request ICC investigation of Venezuela

On Wednesday, the governments of Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Canada officially asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into crimes against humanity allegedly occuring in Venezuela, including murder, rape, torture, and violations of due process. This is the first time in the Court’s history that a state has requested an investigation of another state, but it does not guarantee that an investigation will be opened. In February, the ICC began a preliminary examination of the crisis – but with this request from the six American countries, the process could be expedited, and the preliminary examination could be converted to the beginnings of an investigation. Comment: According to an investigation by the Organization of American States, there were 12,000 cases of arbitrary detention and 8,000 extrajudicial executions since 2015. (CBC, El Espectador, Emol, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Tabitha Niemann

This week in East Asia & Pacific

CHINA: Beijing denies U.S. accusations of election interference at UN General Assembly

On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi denied President Trump’s public allegations of election meddling, declaring to the UN Security Council that “we do not and will not interfere” in foreign elections. Trump leveled the accusations in a Security Council meeting during the ongoing UN General Assembly in New York City. Though National Security Advisor John Bolton speculated last month that China, along with Russia, North Korea, and Iran, was potentially planning on election interference, Trump’s comments mark the U.S.’s first concrete accusations. Comment: Trump claims the alleged interference by the Chinese is motivated by the ongoing trade war between the nations. He contends that China has a vested interest in seeing Republicans lose in November elections because “I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.” (South China Morning Post, Reuters, Financial Times)

PHILIPPINES: Senator and vocal Duterte critic arrested on rebellion charges


On Tuesday, Philippine senator Antonio Trillanes was arrested on renewed rebellion charges stemming from his role in two failed coups in the mid 2000s. The original charges were dropped in 2011 after Trillanes was granted amnesty, which President Rodrigo Duterte revoked earlier this month. Trillanes is an outspoken critic of Duterte, having submitted several complaints to the International Criminal Court requesting investigation of Duterte’s crimes against humanity in his heavy-handed anti-drug campaign and publicly accusing the president of mass murder and theft. Comment: Trillanes is the second vocal Duterte critic in the Senate to be jailed in recent years, part of what the Human Rights Watch has condemned as a coordinated effort to silence critics of the president’s drug war, which has resulted in at least 10,000 deaths. (Inquirer, South China Morning Post, Reuters)

VIETNAM: Vice president becomes country’s first female president


On Sunday, Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh was named acting president after Tran Dai Quang’s death, becoming the nation’s first female head of state. Thinh will hold the role until October 23, when the National Assembly convenes and will elect a new leader. Thinh, a member of the Communist Party of Vietnam, was elected Vice President in April 2016. President Quang reportedly succumbed to a rare virus, which remains unidentified by government doctors. Comment: Although symbolically significant, advocates are skeptical Thinh’s accession will change the gender imbalance in the Vietnam’s politics. The nation ranked 166 out of 186 countries in women holding ministerial positions according to the 2017 Inter-Parliamentary Union survey. (Nikkei, South China Morning Post, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Christian Vickland

This week in Europe & Central Asia

GERMANY: Court affirms that airline can refuse to fly Israelis through Kuwait


On Tuesday, a German appeals court affirmed a lower court decision that authorities could not force Kuwait Airways to transport an Israeli citizen. The airline refused to allow an Israeli passenger to fly from Frankfurt to Bangkok via Kuwait City in 2016 because Kuwaiti law prohibits companies from doing business with Israelis. While the court called this law “unacceptable and irrelevant in Germany,” it also explained that the airline could not adequately fulfill this contract given that the passenger could not legally enter the airport in Kuwait City to move to his connecting flight. Comment: Similar lawsuits in the U.S. and Switzerland caused Kuwait Airways to discontinue New York-London and inter-European flights. Kuwait and Israel do not have diplomatic relations. (Deutsche Welle, Jewish News, UPI, Reuters)

ITALY: Emergency decree to increase restrictions on immigration


On Monday, the council of ministers adopted an emergency decree that will increase restrictions on immigration along with making security changes affecting immigrants. Parliament has 60 days to discuss and approve this “Salvini Decree,” which is named after Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Controversial provisions include severely restricting how many migrants receive “humanitarian” asylum and increasing the length of time an irregular migrant can be detained from 90 days to 180 days. Comment: The League party, led by Minister Salvini, campaigned on restricting the flow of immigrants. After gaining power this year, party leaders began refusing to let migrant rescue boats dock until other EU members agreed to take in more of the passengers. (La Stampa, The Local, Al Jazeera, Reuters 1,2)

MOLDOVA: Constitutional Court suspends president’s appointment powers

On Monday, the Constitutional Court temporarily suspended President Igor Dodon’s powers of appointment over a conflict concerning the newly proposed ministers of health and agriculture. President Dodon claimed the candidates lack the necessary skills to serve in their posts, but under current law, he is only able to reject a proposed candidate once. The Democratic Party of Moldova, which controls the national parliament, requested this suspension in preparation to propose the candidates again. This is the fourth time the Constitutional Court suspended President Dodon’s powers. Comment: President Dodon supports closer ties with Russia, while the Democratic Party of Moldova favors the EU. As in other parts of Eastern Europe, these tensions affect the ongoing political process. (, Independent, Radio Free Europe, TASS)

Researched/Written by Lars Spjut

This week in the Middle East & North Africa

LIBYA: Coast Guard rescues 235 migrants


On Sunday, Libya’s Coast Guard rescued 235 migrants off its western shore. Western Libya is the most popular departure point for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. The number of attempted crossings has declined since July 2017, when an Italian-led initiative used a militia group to remove human traffickers. Comment: Western Libya, run by a UN-backed government, has been in a state of violence since Muammar Gaddafi was removed in 2011. Migrants often depart from Libya’s western shores looking to escape years of poverty and strife, but many drown in their attempt to reach European soil. (Arab News, Lebanon News, Reuters)

TUNISIA: Torrential rain causes deadly floods


On Saturday, at least four people died in Bir Bourega and Bou Argoub due to severe flooding. Citizens blame the flooded roads and damaged property on government authorities failing to maintain the drainage systems, which could have prevented some of the flooding. Some areas received half of their average annual rainfall in the past week. Comment: Authorities further south in the Sahel region took precautionary measures with the expectation of more rain; however, the rain stopped by Sunday and the flooding started to recede. (Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, African Daily)

YEMEN: “Ten Days Before the Wedding” revives cinema

On Saturday, the Yemeni film industry experienced a revival with “Ten Days Before the Wedding,” a movie shot and produced entirely in Yemen. The film premiered earlier this month and tells the story of a young Yemeni couple whose marriage was put on hold due to the country’s civil war. The film’s director, Amr Gamal, said, “We tried to portray the mental state of the Yemeni people.” Cast and shot entirely in the coastal city of Aden, Yemenis have eagerly flocked to makeshift cinemas to watch the movie. Comment: The film covers a wide array of issues faced within the country, including poverty, assassinations, and the consequences of the war. Analysts view the movie release as a positive sign for Yemen’s once burgeoning film industry, as well as a harbinger of growing hope of the people of Aden of an eventual return to normalcy. (Al Jazeera, Latest Nigerian News, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Tyler Spyrison

This week in South Asia

BANGLADESH: New Digital Security Act draws criticism from journalists


On Thursday, journalists cancelled planned protests and agreed to meet with the government on Sunday to discuss the new legislation they say threatens freedom of speech. The Digital Security Act, passed on September 19, would allow police to arrest any person without a warrant, charge any person secretly recording in a government building with up to 14 years for espionage, and gives jail time for those spreading “propaganda and campaign” against the Bangladesh war for independence in 1971. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called journalists “sensitive” and said that the legislation is an effort to control cyber and digital crimes. Comment: Critics of Prime Minister Hasina’s administration see this as the latest attempt to gain authoritarian rule in Bangladesh. The legislation comes soon after last month’s violent suppression of student protests demanding improved safety and the end to extrajudicial killings by security forces. (The Daily Star, Reuters, Human Rights Watch)

INDIA / PAKISTAN: India cancels meeting with Pakistan, citing “evil agenda”


On Friday, India released a statement cancelling talks with Pakistan set to occur during the UN General Assembly this week. In the statement, the Indian foreign ministry stated that the decision came after the “latest brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the recent release of a series of twenty postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism.” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called this response “arrogant and negative” and the foreign office stated that it had “nothing to do with” recent killings of Indian personnel. Comment: The talks between India and Pakistan were agreed upon only the day before they were cancelled. This would have been the first high-level talks between the two countries in almost three years. (The Straits Times, Aljazeera, Reuters)

MALDIVES: Opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wins presidential election

On Sunday, incumbent president Abdulla Yameen lost a decisive election with 90 percent voter turnout to end his five-year term as president. Despite the detention and exile of many key opposition leaders, Maldivian Democratic Party leader Ibrahim “Ibu” Mohamed Solih, backed by three additional opposition parties, reportedly received 58.4 percent of the vote to President Yameen’s 41.6 percent and is set to take power on November 17. Some within the country believed that President Yameen would launch an election petition to delay the official results announcement on Sunday; however, President Yameen conceded the election in a televised address on Monday. Comment: President Yameen is known as a hardliner with ties to China and Saudi Arabia. During his five-year term as president, Yameen jailed political opponents and judges, and declared a state of emergency when he believed there was an effort to impeach him. (The Straits Times 1, 2, The Times of India, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Amy Pipher

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