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CrisisWatch N°61, 1 September 2008

Twelve actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated in August 2008 and only one improved, according to the new issue of the International Crisis Group's monthly bulletin CrisisWatch, released today.

The outbreak of war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia had enormous geopolitical implications. Tbilisi's early August offensive in South Ossetia prompted a massive ground, aerial and naval response from Russia, whose forces later advanced further into Georgia. The crisis also sparked violence in Abkhazia, where separatist forces, assisted by Russian planes, captured the Georgian-controlled Kodori gorge. Heavy international engagement followed, including wide condemnation of Russia's "disproportionate" response and subsequent recognition of the independence of the two regions. Up to 158,000 people were displaced in the violence and the humanitarian situation continued to worsen as CrisisWatch went to press.

Deadly clashes escalated across Somalia, with the southern port Kismayo falling to Islamist insurgents on 22 August after 3 days of intense fighting killing at least 100. The peace deal signed on 18 August was rejected by Al-Shabaab and hardliners in the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, and threatened by tensions between President Yusuf and Prime Minister Nur Adde. In Sudan, the ruling NCP's stance hardened against the International Criminal Court prosecutor's application for President Bashir's arrest. August also saw renewed army attacks in Darfur.

In Algeria, a series of bombings claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb killed some 80 in the deadliest violence in recent years. The situation also deteriorated in Mauritania, where the military seized power in a coup after weeks of political crisis, as well as in Afghanistan, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, Kashmir, and the Philippines.

The situation improved in Nepal, where the Constituent Assembly elected in April finally voted in a new Prime Minister on 15 August, and formed a coalition government.

For September, CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for the Philippines. Violence between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has already displaced an estimated 160,000, may escalate following the abandonment of July's agreement on the crucial ancestral domain issue. A conflict resolution opportunity is identified in Cyprus, where full-scale reunification talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders scheduled for 3 September offer the chance for a resolution of the island's protracted political impasse.

AUGUST 2008 TRENDS

Deteriorated Situations
Afghanistan, Algeria, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, Georgia, Kashmir, Mauritania, Philippines, Somalia, Sudan

Improved Situations
Nepal

Unchanged Situations
Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Basque Country (Spain), Belarus, Bosnia, Burundi, Chad, Chechnya (Russia), China (internal), Colombia, Comoros Islands, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Territories, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Mali, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Niger, Nigeria, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), North Korea, Pakistan, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somaliland (Somalia), Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe

SEPTEMBER 2008 OUTLOOK

Conflict Risk Alerts
Philippines

Conflict Resolution Opportunities
Cyprus

*NOTE: CrisisWatch indicators - up and down arrows, conflict risk alerts, and conflict resolution opportunities - are intended to reflect changes within countries or situations from month to month, not comparisons between countries. For example, no "conflict risk alert" is given for a country where violence has been occurring and is expected to continue in the coming month: such an indicator is given only where new or significantly escalated violence is feared.