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News Roundup: 2 March - 8 March 2015 By: SSR Resource Centre | SSR Weekly | Mar 9, 2015

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Security Sector Reform Resource Centre

Munich in Minsk?
CSG Senior Fellow David Law discusses the parallels between ongoing talks in Minsk between French, German, Ukrainian and Russian leaders, and the 1938 talks in Munich between British, French, Italian and German leaders. Law looks specifically to three central parallels, the first being the absence of any viable military options from French, British, or German representatives. The second is the absence of the U.S. at the negotiation table, which could have serious implications on effective implementation of an agreement. The third is the likelihood that Putin will see the Minsk agreement the same way Hitler saw the Munich agreement, as “a scrap of paper,” given the absence of any realistic Western counter to his offensive in Ukraine.



Desertions and casualties have crippled Afghan security forces as the US prepares to withdraw troops

Recently declassified U.S. military data revealed the number of Afghan security forces decreased sharply in 2014, a fact that could impact the planned U.S. withdrawal from the country. — Reuters

South Sudan’s Kiir Arrives in Ethiopia for Talks with SPLM-in Opposition

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir arrived Monday 1 March in Addis Ababa for talks with opposition SPLM-In leader Riek Machar. According to the agreement signed in February, Machar and Kiir had until 5 March to agree to a comprehensive peace settlement. — Government of Ethiopia

Anticipated PKK disarmament to accelerate reconciliation process

Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu stated there can be no preconditions to PKK disarmament following the late-February call by PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan for Kurdish group to lay down arms. — Ayse Sahin, Daily Sabah

Kurdish rebel leader in Turkey calls for disarmament congress

Jailed Kurdish militant and leader called on his followers on 1 March to lay down arms. This move has been described as “historic” and observers note it will play a central role in the resolution of the thirty-year insurgency. — Ayla Jean Yackley, Reuters

Kurdish Rebels Call Disarmament Move Historic

Kurdish rebels in Turkey have described jailed PKK leader Obdullah Ocalan’s call for disarmament “historic” and a positive step towards resolution and reconciliation. — Reuters

Ex-Libyan general Haftar appointed army chief

The former Libyan general Khalifa Haftar was appointed commander of the Libyan National Army, the army of the country’s internationally recognized government, on Monday 2 March. Haftar, a former ally of Muammar Qaddafi who later joined the anti-Qaddafi revolution, merged his forces with army troops to fight Islamist groups including the Libya Dawn militia that now controls Tripoli. — Al Arabiya

International community skeptical of Thai government’s reform claims

Despite propaganda promoted by Thailand’s Foreign Ministry and its envoys, the international community remains skeptical of the government’s promises of reform. — The Nation/Asia News Network

S. Sudanese peace talks moving slowly despite deadline — rebels

Despite the 5 March deadline for South Sudanese President Kiir and Opposition leader Machar to reach comprehensive peace agreement, the talks reportedly progressed at a very slow pace. — Sudan Tribune

S. Sudanese rival leaders fail to strike peace deal as rebels insist on reforms

South Sudan rival leaders, President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar failed to meet the 5 March deadline for agreement on a comprehensive peace agreement. The mediation team from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) extended the deadline by 24 hours for parties to negotiate further on the opposition’s demand for reforms. — The Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Troops, Rebel Fighters Clash After Peace Talks Fail

Fighting reportedly resumed between government troops and rebel fighters in the border state of Western Bahr el Ghazal and in Upper Nile state, following the failure to reach a comprehensive peace agreement Friday 6 March. — Nicholas Bariyo, Wall Street Journal

Libya asks UN to approve arms contracts

Libya called on the UN Security council Wednesday 4 March to approve their request for military purchases amid the internationally recognized government’s ongoing fight against Islamic State militants and other Islamist groups in the country. — Middle East Eye

Poroshenko launches aggressive reform plan

Ukrainian President Poroshenko announced far-reaching reform programs in his continued attempt to put the country on the path for EU membership. The reforms intend to affect various sectors including the judicial system, law enforcement, anti-corruption, national security and defense, taxes and medical care. — Oleksandra Molotkova, Southeast European Times

UK aid watchdog slams DfID over naïve security and justice initiatives

The UK’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact (Acai) has criticized the UK government’s efforts to promote security and justice abroad. Acai points to “overambitious targets, a lack of focus and a ‘naïve’ tendency to repeat unsuccessful initiatives.” — Sam Jones, The Guardian

Report: Ukraine crisis slows global disarmament drive

A report by the German government released on Wednesday 4 March states the crisis in Ukraine has slowed the drive for international disarmament. — Europe Online

22 top police officials replaced by new Interior Minister

Egyptian Minister of the Interior Magdi Abdel Ghaffar has replaced some 22 of the top police officials as part of a greater police reshuffle in Cairo’s Security Sector. — The Cairo Post

Retiring officials trigger security concerns in Lebanon

The ongoing presidential vacuum in Lebanon since May 25 2014 has led political forces to establish a novel decision making mechanism, which may trigger security concerns when a number of key security officials retire in this year. — Esperance Ghanem, Al Monitor

Military has nothing to do with politics - Agwai

Nigerian Chief of Defense Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai stated on Thursday 6 March that the military had been instructed to stay out of politics and focus on its responsibility to defend the territorial integrity of the state. — Olayinka Olukoya-Abeokuta, Nigerian Tribune

74 men, 20 children killed for refusing to join Boko Haram

Islamist group Boko Haram reportedly killed on the 6 March some 74 men and 20 children at Njaba Village in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno state when they refused to join the extremist insurgent group. — Ndahi Marama, Vanguard

Colombia landmines: Farc to help army clear minefields

Colombia’s government and Farc rebel forces agreed to cooperate in the removal of landmines in rural areas of the country. — BBC

Boko Haram Generates Uncertainty with Pledge of Allegiance to Islamic State

Extremist insurgent group Boko Haram pledged fidelity to the Islamic State on Saturday 7 March. The practical implications of this declaration remain unclear, however some terrorist experts suggest the move indicates Boko Haram “has agreed to accept the authority of the Islamic State.” — Rukmini Callimachi, New York Times

Mexico Official: 14 Police Face Charges of Kidnapping, extortion

Mexican police detained on the 7 March 15 federal police officers for kidnapping the owner of a construction company in the northern city of Matamoros and demanding $2 million in ransom. — AP



Creole Crisis: Preventing Civil War in Haiti

Hervé Rakoto Razafimbahiny explores the ongoing political crisis in Haiti, and ways further crisis and possible civil war can be avoided. — Hervé Rakoto Razafimbahiny, Foreign Affairs

Briefing: Syria’s “freeze zones” and prospects for peace

IRIN’s Joe Dyke explores the UN’s envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura’s intiatives for peace in Syria, including his plan to implement “freeze zones” in different areas throughout the country. — Joe Dyke, IRIN

Yemen’s power shift a setback for child soldier plan

The recent political crisis and Houthi takeover in Yemen could derail efforts to end the use of child soldiers in Yemen, given the Houthi-rebel group’s propensity to recruit children. — Almigdad Mojali, IRIN

No shortage of recruits for Boko Haram in Cameroon’s Far North

Local authorities have noted that huge numbers of youth in Northern Cameroon who lack access to education and employment opportunities are joining the Boko Haram insurgency in the region. — Monde Kingsley Nfor, IRIN

South Sudan’s delayed peace means no justice for war crimes victims

The failure of South Sudan’s rival leaders to sign a comprehensive peace agreement by the 5 March deadline suggests there is little hope for justice for victims of war crimes perpetrated by both sides during the ongoing conflict. — Andrew Green, IRIN

Zambia’s Uncertain Future: Political Risks and Economic Challenges in Lusaka

Vito Laterza and Patience Musua analyze possible political and economic crisis in Zambia. — Vito Laterza and Patience Musua, Foreign Affairs

Lesotho looks to hold on to peace after early elections

South African deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa stated Thursday 5 March that Lesotho’s government should quickly begin its constitutional and security reform process to ensure continued stability following the late-February snap elections, which were reportedly peaceful. — Marafaele Mohloboli, Reuters

Good talk, not enough action: The AU’s counter-terrorism architecture, and why it matters

Simon Allison discusses the African Union’s counter-terrorism framework, specifically looking into its limitations in terms of implementation. — Simon Allison, ISS

African Training Exercise Turns Urgent as Threats Grow

The recent declaration of fidelity to the Islamic State by Islamist group Boko Haram has compelled American and allied commanders to begin training African forces in counterterrorism to fight the growing Islamist insurgency. — New York Times

Obama Elbows Into the Colombia Peace Talks

Mary Anastasia O’Grady discusses U.S. President Obama’s role in ongoing peace talks in Cuba between the Colombian government and Farc rebel forces. — Mary Anastasia O’grady, Wall Street Journal

Role reversal: U.S. Special Operations After the Long War

Steven Mertz discusses the changing role of U.S. Special Operations following the U.S. involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. — World Politics Review

Kenya’s Harsh Counterterrorism Tactics Risk Stoking Extremism

Jeremy Prestholdt discusses Kenya’s recent counterterrorism legislation and its potential to enhance, rather than stem, the terrorist threat in the region. — World Politics Review

Playing Many Sides, Sudan’s Bashir Tries Again to End His Isolation

Alex de Waal discusses the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s careful political strategy to end his economic and political isolation amid ongoing tensions in various parts of the country. — Alex de Waal, World Politics Review



Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt

Omar Ashour explores and analyses the legacies and patterns of relations between Egyptian security forces and the Muslim Brotherhood. He further discusses the implications of continued imbalance in civil-military relations on future stability in Egypt. — Omar Ashour, Brookings

“Today We Shall All Die”: Afghanistan’s Strongmen and the Legacy of Impunity

This new Human Rights Watch report profiles eight Afghan strongmen linked to police, intelligence and militias forces responsible for abuses in recent years, highlighting continued patterns of impunity and lack of accountability of security forces. — Human Rights Watch

The Great Powers in the New Middle East

John MacLaughlin looks at the current reality of conflict, complex alliance systems and issues at stake in ongoing conflicts throughout the Middle East. — John MacLaughlin, Center for Strategic and international Studies

A Study in Contrasts: Governance and Security in Southeast Asia

This recent World Politics Review Special Report discusses the current political and security challenges faced by countries in Southeast Asia. — World Politics Review