The eastern Congo is about to enter a new cycle of violence. The rebels of the new organisation “M23” only control a limited area so far, but reportedly get stronger by the day. M23 is the result of the mutiny of several army units around Easter. These units were part of a former rebel group, the CNDP, which was officially disbanded and integrated into the army in 2009.
As a reaction on the limited success of operations against the mutineers the army is concentrating more and more forces in the area surrounding the rebel strongholds on the border with Rwanda. But this leaves other areas in the vast and inaccessible east bereft of security forces. In these areas violence by ethnic militias against civilians is on the rise and several thousand people have fled already in fear of atrocities.
Meanwhile, more and more commentators see a hand of Rwanda in the mutiny. Rwanda heavily supported the former CNDP and both the BBC and Human Rights Watch say that they have proof of Rwandan military and logistic support for the renewed rebellion. Rwanda is also apparently blocking the publication of a U.N. report, which could include further evidence of its involvement in the matter.
The situation remains tense in northern Mali. The area — roughly the size of France — is still a no-go area for the government and aid organizations, with several different rebel groups controlling all population centers.
Both the MNLA and Ançar Dine, probably the strongest of these groups, are dominated by Tuareg fighters. But where the MNLA aims at establishing an independent and secular state in the region, Ançar Dine has an Islamist agenda. At the beginning of the month, a merger of the two groups fell apart after only one day due to these differences.
As a result, fighting broke out in several places between the groups. Should these tension build up further, they could result in a full-blown civil war, a danger which is only multiplied by the number of other armed militias and criminal groups in the area.
The regional organization ECOWAS and the African Union have petitioned the U.N. Security Council to legitimize and support a military intervention to stabilize the situation. ECOWAS wants to devote between 3,000 and 4,000 troops for this adventure. The Security Council turned down the demand for now, as it wasn’t clear how the stated goals of the intervention could be reached with the proposed strength of the force.
The security situation in North Nigeria remains in tatters. Two weeks ago, security forces killed 19 alleged Boko Haram members during a firefight that lasted several hours and reduced parts of a residential area to rubble. Then, over the last weekend, suicide attacks on churches claimed by the same group killed at least 16 civilians.
The attacks resulted in a range of revenge killings against the Muslim population in the city of Kaduna. At the end of the day, more than 50 people were killed as a result, with several hundred injured.
Talks with Boko Haram have meanwhile broken down repeatedly. This could be due to the extremist and fractionated nature of the group, or to the seemingly complete inability of the government to react with anything else then violence to these attacks.
Seven Blue Helmets were killed during an attack on a patrol close to the Liberian border. Other victims include two Ivorian soldiers and eight civilians. The Ivorian government was quick to put the blame on Liberian militias and said it would intervene militarily in the neighboring country, if the Liberian government proved to be unable to handle the situation.
Additionally, in Abidjan, the capital of the Côte d’Ivoire, rumors spread of a coup attempt, which was frustrated by the government. A government spokesperson later said that several officers loyal to the former President Laurent Gbagbo — now facing the International Criminal Court in The Hague — were responsible, but some commentators alleged that the coup was made up by the government as a way to garner support from international partners.