Weekly News Roundup: Central African quagmire, Burmese violence, and UN steps up its game in Congo

A little late again with the news roundup, but you can rest easy: a sampling of this past week’s hot topics (hot, that is, if you are a Central African Republic follower) below!

Central Africa

Central African Republic (CAR): This oft-forgotten country was the center of attention for Africa watchers this week, as a rebel coalition (called Seleka) took the capital Bangui with relative ease, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee to Cameroon.

Two days later, rebel leader Michel Djotodia proclaimed himself the new head of state. The US was not pleased.

For a recap of how the troubled CAR got to this point, see here. And Lesley Anne Warner, CAR expert, laments the failed peace talks that preceded the invasion here.

Perhaps the most awkward part has been the exposure of South African troops mysteriously based in the country. Analysis of their role in the CAR here and here.

DRC: While attention over the past two weeks has focused on rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda’s trip to The Hague for prosecution, another attack flew under the radar: a pro-independence militia, 300 fighters strong, attacked Lubumbashi, Congo’s second-largest city and a hub for the global minerals trade. Fortunately, the Mai Mai militia was quickly repelled.

The other big news is that the UN has approved an “intervention brigade” with a mandate to pursue and neutralize armed rebel groups in the eastern DRC. An expert’s take here.

West Africa

Mali: AQIM named a new commander to replace Abu Zeid, who was killed in Mali last month.

Pascale Combelles Siegel writes in the CTC Sentinel on AQIM emir Abdelmalik’s Droukdel vision for an Islamist Mali…and how AQIM’s southern commanders screwed it up. (My take on AQIM’s adventure in Mali here.)

Mali expert Gregory Mann reports from Bamako on a deceptively simple question: “How many wars are being fought in the Sahara?” A sampling: “Necessary as it was, France’s intervention never offered a real solution to any of Mali’s problems. It did, however, create a preferable set of problems to the ones this country would otherwise have faced.”

RFI and BBC report on French-led operations in the Adrar des Ifoghas and Ametatai Valley.

Nigeria: Jacob Zenn reports on convergences and divergences between Boko Haram, Ansaru, and AQIM in the CTC Sentinel.

Middle East and North Africa

Egypt: Small Wars Journal has a new piece on Takfir wal-Hijra and escalating violence on the Sinai peninsula.

Iraq: Echoing my concerns posted here, the LA Times has a piece arguing that PM Nouri al-Maliki is leading Iraq to the brink of dissolution.

Turkey: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has a succinct briefing on the Kurdish PKK’s recent announcement that it will end its armed struggle in Turkey.

Southeast Asia

Burma: Hardline Buddhists have sparked widespread violence aimed at local Muslims in over 10 cities in central Burma.

Human Rights Watch provides ominous satellite images showing devastation to Muslim communities in Meiktila, where the violence began and has killed more than 40 residents.

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