Philippine Marines Corporal. Photo: Lcpl Cory Yenter/Wikimedia Commons.
More than 10,000 people fled their homes this week in Mindanao, southern Philippines, as government forces launched a major offensive against Muslim splinter groups opposed to a final peace deal to end decades of insurgency in the island. The country’s capacity to respond to emergencies has been stretched by a series of deadly disasters.
President Benigno Aquino said the offensive was a calculated response against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), who had been harassing civilians and troops in the towns of Datu Piang and Pikit, in Maguindanao Province.
Gun battles and heavy exchanges of mortar fire have left at least 37 rebels and one soldier dead since 27 January, and the military said at least three civilians were hurt by an improvised bomb attack near a market, in which seven troops were also injured.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the capital, Manila, said it had requested assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide tents for some 4,200 people in 10 evacuation centres. Another 4,565 people are staying with friends and relatives. » More
Prayers in Congo. Photo: Steve Evans/flickr.
Though the Second Congo War formally ended in 2003 the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Eastern regions have remained embroiled in violence. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has become the UN’s largest peacekeeping obligation with 19,134 uniformed personnel as of January 2013.
Despite the conclusion of formal hostilities almost a decade ago, violence has continued unabated with the most recent crisis occurring when the March 23rd Movement (M23) occupied the city of Goma. In response to the continuing violence and the new threat posed by M23 the UN mediated the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region on 24 February 2013. The Framework was signed by the leaders of the DRC and ten other African countries. While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has argued that the signing of the Framework represents a “historic opportunity”, the DRC has had a long history of failed peace agreements and there is little to differentiate the recently signed Framework from past attempts. This makes it hard to argue that the Framework represents a real step forward in the Congolese peace process. » More
Rebel in Northern Central African Republic. Photo: hdptcar/flickr
On January 11, the Central African Republic (CAR) government, led by President François Bozizé, and the rebel coalition Séléka signed a new peace deal. The agreement comes after a month of political and military instability that saw rebels advance on the capital Bangui in an attempt to overthrow Bozizé during a military advance. It is expected that the peace deal will result in the naming of new a prime minister and the formation of a government of national unity. According to Centrafrique Presse Info, President Bozizé is expected to respect the decision to appoint Nicolas Tiangaye, [fr] a lawyer and former president of the Central African Human Rights League, as the country’s new prime minister. » More
Colombian Paratroops. Photo by Ronald Dueñas/Flickr.
In addition to their love for telenovelas, as well as their cuisine and religion borne out of a shared Spanish heritage, Colombia and the Philippines now have one more thing in common. This [month], both countries took another step toward peace with their respective armed groups, which could lead to the end of internal conflicts that are among the oldest in the world. On October 15, the Philippines entered into a peace accord with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Two days later, Colombia’s government began peace talks in Oslo with the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Each of these presents a unique opportunity for civil society to sustain peace by fostering trust and accountability over issues such as land rights, delivery of social services, political participation at the local and national level, and tolerance for other people’s beliefs. » More
Former members of the Taliban surrender their weapons. Image by Fraidoon Poya for UNAMA.
By the end of 2014, normal U.S. combat forces are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan. As this departure date approaches, Afghanistan and its U.S.-led allies continue to explore potential peace deals with the Afghan Taliban. At the same time, the Pakistani government is reportedly considering its own peace talks with factions of the Pakistani Taliban—the conglomerate responsible for daily small-arms and suicide bomb attacks in Pakistani territory.
Since the emergence of the Pakistani Taliban, Islamabad has entered into a handful of peace deals with factions belonging to the group—both written and unwritten—in attempts to placate the militants. Most of these peace deals, however, resulted in the further strengthening of the Pakistani Taliban, and only a few of the agreements lasted beyond a few months. Violence flared not long after the agreements became effective, and the Pakistani Taliban then demanded even further concessions from the government. The only exception was the situation in the Swat Valley, where the government launched an aggressive military operation against the Pakistani Taliban after the peace deal failed to render any results. In that case, the Mullah Fazlullah-led Pakistani Taliban faction was forced to flee the Swat Valley, and that region remains in control of the government today.
This article reviews the key peace agreements reached between Islamabad and various Pakistani Taliban factions, and it assesses whether the deals achieved their objectives. » More