Weekly News Roundup: Que Tirah Tirah, renewed fighting in Darfur, and a military shakeup in Yemen

South Asia

Pakistan: In perhaps the largest military offensive since Swat in 2009 and South Waziristan in 2010, Pakistani armed forces are attempting to dislodge Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) and Laskhar-e-Islam fighters from the Tirah Valley (map here). (Hence the pun in the title.) The operation has already killed more than 100 militants and at least 23 Pakistani soldiers.

Reuters also has an interesting story on Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city that paradoxically boasts both regular bombings and a booming stock market.

India-Sri Lanka: The Economist reports on growing tensions over fishing rights in the Palk Strait.

East Africa

Sudan: Renewed fighting in South Darfur between government forces and Minni Minnawi’s SLA faction has forced more than 50,000 civilians to take refuge in neighboring Chad.

The Economist reports on the prospects for an opening in Sudan’s marginalizing policy toward the region.

At the same time, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir completed a historic visit to South Sudan, the first since the two countries broke apart in 2011. Defense minister Hussein notes that improving relations with South Sudan may help end the Darfur conflict.

South Sudan: A group of 200 armed men killed five UN peacekeepers (all Indian) and seven civilian support staff in brazen attack in troubled Jonglei state.

Ethiopia-Eritrea: Think Africa Press has a thoughtful piece on the prospects for peace between these two bitter rivals.

Somalia: A good Africa-based think tank offers a closer look at the power dynamics in Kismayo, Somalia’s second-largest city liberated from al-Shabaab by Kenyan/AMISOM forces last year.

West Africa

Mali: France launched a major offensive to clear the Gao region of jihadists in the same week that French forces began a phased withdrawal from other parts of Mali.

Nigeria: Islamic extremist group Boko Haram rejected the government’s offer of full amnesty. The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau: “Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you a pardon.” Zainab’s musings analyzes the response here.

After Niger Delta rebel group MEND warned last week that it would resume attacks, 12 policemen were killed in an ambush in Bayelsa state. MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) publically vowed to fight the Nigerian state after leader Henry Okah was sentenced to jail.

Middle East and North Africa

Libya: No surprises here. A new UN report claims that weapons from Libya’s arsenals are spreading at an “alarming rate” throughout the region, often into the hands of dangerous militants.

Yemen: President al-Hadi shook up the country’s defense establishment by removing ex-President Saleh’s son as head of the elite Republic Guard. AEI’s “Critical Threats” program is skeptical about whether the reshuffling will work.

For the fourth time, it appears Said al-Shihri, AQAP’s deputy commander, has come back from the dead after being pronounced slain by Yemeni authorities.

BBC reports that Saudi Arabia is building a 1,100-mile border fence along its boundary with Yemen.


Kosovo: Tom Clarke provides a quick backgrounder on the recent failed talks between Serbia and Kosovo.

Just for fun

Camel stew: Turns out the camel presented to French President Francois Hollande on his recent visit to Bamako, Mali was slaughtered and eaten while under the entrusted care a local family. Oops.

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