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Daily Brief: Violence in South Sudan Capital Kills 300

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July 11, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Violence in South Sudan Capital Kills 300

Heavy gunfire resumed in the South Sudanese capital of Juba Monday in an escalation of violence that began last last week and has left at least three hundred dead, including numerous civilians and a Chinese peacekeeper (Guardian). Juba government forces said they were shelling buildings believed to be used by opposition fighters (Sudan Tribune) as the United Nations called for additional peacekeepers (Africa News) to be deployed. Several international organizations evacuated their staff from Juba as the country marked five years of independence Saturday (FT). A presidential spokesman said that officers loyal to rebel leader-turned Vice President Riek Machar started the clashes in a bid to undermine a peace deal (WSJ); a spokesman for Machar said the government used helicopter gunships and tanks to attack a base that hosts troops loyal to the vice president.


"[H]opes of a peaceful transition to independence were dashed when Kiir sacked Machar from his vice presidential post in July 2013, setting the stage for a violent power-struggle between the two men. War broke out five months later, after Kiir’s troops massacred people of Machar’s Nuer ethnic group in Juba. By the beginning of 2016, more than 2 million South Sudanese had been displaced and as many as 100,000 had been killed, though estimates vary widely. A peace agreement signed in August 2015 was intended to bring the two sides together into a unity government, but both had routinely flouted its provisions even before fighting broke out on Thursday," Jason Patinkin and Ty McCormick write for Foreign Policy.

"South Sudan is running out of money, which along with a civil war and mass food shortages is putting the world’s youngest country at risk of becoming its youngest failed state. In the past two years, the U.S. government has spent more than $1 billion to try to help stave off escalating violence in South Sudan, government figures show. Other Western countries have also given massive amounts. Secretary of State John Kerry in May announced an additional $5 million to establish a court to 'hold perpetrators of violence to account.' But the South Sudanese government has run through its cash reserves and is trying to pay for a war with credit and a trickle of oil money," Heidi Vogt writes for the Wall Street Journal.

"Machar’s return to Juba late April marked the end of a two-and-a-half-year civil war in which government and opposition forces alike committed mass atrocities against civilians, including murder, rape, and the use of child soldiers. Much of the brutality took place along ethnic lines, with Kiir’s Dinka soldiers targeting civilians of Machar’s Nuer people, and vice versa. The two sides signed a peace agreement in Addis Ababa in 2015, and Machar’s return marked a step forward, at least enabling the formation of a transitional unity government. But other parts of the agreement seem forgotten or outright ignored – most obviously, Kiir has ploughed on with implementing his 28-states policy without waiting for an independent commission to evaluate the move," Alice Su writes for IRIN News.


Japanese PM Claims Victory in Upper House Elections

Exit polls suggest Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's coalition won most of the seats up for grabs in the upper house of  parliament (BBC). The victory will allow Abe to push forward with initiating Japan's first constitutional referendum (Japan Times) to ease restraints on military action.

NORTH KOREA: North Korea said on Monday it will end its diplomatic channel of communication with the United States (AP) in retaliation for recent sanctions on leader Kim Jong-un. The North also said it would carry out "merciless" strikes against South Korea in response to the announcement that the South and the United States would deploy an anti-missile unit in the peninsula (Korea Times).

This CFR Global Conflict tracker follows recent developments in the North Korea weapons crisis.


More Than Twenty Killed in Indian-Administered Kashmir

Some twenty-two people were killed and an estimated two hundred injured after police and paramilitary troops in Indian-administered Kashmir fired on mourners paying homage to rebel leader Burhan Wani, who was killed Friday (Al Jazeera). Police said one hundred officers were injured and at least one was killed after a mob forced his car into a river (BBC). Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called for calm and expressed condolences for the killings, saying "disproportionate" force was used on the mourners (Kashmir Post).

This CFR Global Conflict Tracker discusses the territorial conflicts in the Kashmir region.

AFGHANISTAN: UK Prime Minister David Cameron increased the number of troops serving in Afghanistan for the first time since the country withdrew combat troops in 2014 (Guardian). The UK maintained an advisory force of 450 personnel, which will now be increased to 500. Last week U.S. President Barack Obama's announced he would maintain 8,400 U.S. troops in the country and widen the military's combat role through the end of his term; the United States declared the combat mission in Afghanistan over in 2014.

Seth G. Jones discusses the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan in this Contingency Planning Memorandum.


Egypt's Foreign Minister Visits Israel

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, where he offered to help revive peace negotiations with  Palestinians and said a two-state solution (Reuters) was "not far-fetched." The visit is the first of its kind in nearly a decade (Al Jazeera); Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab nations to have signed peace accords with Israel.

YEMEN: The Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen intentionally targeted key industrial infrastructure in a bid to undermine the impoverished Arab nation's economy (Middle East Eye), according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. The monitoring group analyzed seventeen coalition air strikes that targeted thirteen industrial sites.

This CFR Global Conflict Tracker explores the Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen.


African Union: DRC Opposition Groups Agree to National Dialogue

Opposition groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo met with representatives from the United Nations, African Union, and European Union in Brussels, after which the African Union announced that opposition organizations agreed on the need to initiate a national dialogue this month (Africa News).


UK Home Secretary May Poised to Become PM

UK Home Secretary Theresa May is poised to become prime minister, the first woman to hold the post since Margaret Thatcher, after her only rival Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the race Monday (NYT). May would succeed Prime Minister David Cameron, who promised to step down following the UK's vote to leave the European Union.

RUSSIA: Russia's foreign minister said NATO's decision to deploy four thousand troops to Poland and Baltic states (FT) focuses on "containment of a non-existent threat from the east." The bloc announced the decision at a meeting in Warsaw over the weekend.


Thousands of Venezuelans Cross Into Colombia to Buy Food

A Colombian government official said that thirty-five thousand Venezuelans crossed into the country on Sunday after the two governments opened a "humanitarian corridor" for Venezuelans suffering from basic food and supply shortages (LAHT) to be able to cross into Colombia. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had closed the border to prevent subsidized goods from being smuggled over the border (BBC).

CFR's Matthew Taylor discusses Venezuela's role in the strains on the Mercosur bloc in this blog post.

UNITED STATES: The United States transferred a Yemeni detainee from Guantanamo Bay prison long cleared for release, Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman, to Italy for resettlement (Miami Herald). The move reduces the population of the prison to seventy-eight.

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