Muslim separatists in Thailand's Deep South agreed in principle to an "improved" peace plan with the government on Feb. 7. The agreement, facilitated by Malaysia, follows years of abortive talks. The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the main separatist organization, announced a unilateral ceasefire in 2020 in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, facilitating a new round of negotiations on greater autonomy for the region. More than 7,000 people have been killed in 20 years of intermittent fighting between government forces and separatists in the country's three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, whose populations are overwhelmingly Malay Muslim. (TNH)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military on Feb. 9 to draw up plans for the "evacuation" of Palestinians from Rafah in southern Gaza as it prepares to launch a full-scale assault on the area. Where people would be evacuated to—and how—remains unclear. Over one million Palestinians forcibly displaced by Israel's military campaign—now entering its fifth month—have been pushed into Rafah. Aid groups warn that there is nowhere left for people to flee to. People in Rafah are already experiencing disease and starvation, with aid operations struggling to meet even basic needs. A ground invasion would "exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare," UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.
Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso announced they are withdrawing from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Jan. 28, issuing a joint statement saying they had taken a "sovereign decision" to abandon the regional bloc of which they were founding members in 1975. The three countries accused the bloc of failing to support their fight against "terrorism and insecurity," and imposing "llegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions." The statement also charged that ECOWAS has "drifted from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism," and is now "under the influence of foreign powers." (BBC News, Al Jazeera) This appears to be largely a veiled reference to France, with which all three countries have reduced or severed ties, although de facto bloc leader Nigeria is closer to the Anglo-American camp.
After more than 100 days of war and Israeli siege, every single person in Gaza is hungry, and a quarter of the population—or around 500,000 people—is starving, UN experts warned on Jan. 16. The aid response is falling short of what is needed to prevent a deadly combination of hunger, malnutrition, and disease, four UN agencies said, calling for a "fundamental step change in the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza." Without it, deaths from starvation and disease could soon surpass the already staggering toll from bombardment and combat, which has reached nearly 25,000 people, according to health authorities in Gaza.
The Indian government and the state government of Assam signed a peace agreement Dec. 29 with the rebel United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), aiming to end over 40 years of insurgency. ULFA leader Arabinda Rajkhowa, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and Union Minister Amit Shah were all present for the signing ceremony in New Delhi.
Eighteen-year-old Tal Mitnick from Tel Aviv has become the first Israeli to refuse mandatory military service since Israel launched its assault on the besieged Gaza Strip. Mitnick was summoned to Tel Hashomer recruitment center, where on Dec. 26 he declared himself to be a conscientious objector, and was sentenced to 30 days in military prison.
In a joint statement released Nov. 28, the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) announced an agreement to reset peace negotiations in an attempt to end a 54-year-long conflict. The agreement was facilitated by Norway and signed in Oslo by representatives of both President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and the NDFP. The statement cited "socioeconomic and environmental issues," as well as "foreign security threats facing the country" as reasons for the re-opening of negotiations. Talks most recently stalled in 2017 when then-president Rodrigo Duterte broke off a peace process and declared the NDFP-affiliated New People's Army (NPA) a "terrorist organization."
Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are ousting the army from military bases across the western Darfur region, leading to fears the country will be split in a similar way to neighboring Libya, which is ruled by rival governments. Even as the RSF has engaged in talks with the army in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, the group has launched attacks on the capitals of three of Darfur's five states, leading to mass displacement and large civilian casualties. Last month, it took full control over Nyala and Zalingei (the capitals of South Darfur and Central Darfur), while last week it seized the main army base in West Darfur's El Geneina. Over 1,000 people from the Masalit ethnic group were reportedly killed by RSF and allied militia fighters during the West Darfur takeover, which may amount to the worst civilian atrocity since Sudan's current war erupted on April 15. RSF leaders are now threatening to seize El Fasher in North Darfur, which has been a safe haven in recent months, and has attracted hundreds of thousands of displaced people.