Four years ago this month, South Sudanese leaders signed a peace agreement that was supposed to end the country's devastating civil war. Today, thousands are again fleeing their homes as disagreements between military-political elites spark renewed violence. The latest clashes stem from internal tensions between factions of the SPLA-IO, the country's main opposition movement which is also a member of the transitional government. The conflict pits forces aligned to Simon Gatwech (a member of the Lou Nuer community) against fighters led by Johnson Olony (a prominent leader in the Shilluk community). Last week, Nuer fighters attacked a group of Shilluk at a displacement camp on Adidiang Island, near Malakal in Upper Nile state, causing hundreds of injuries and reported drownings. Tensions between Shilluk and Nuer also surfaced at the nearby Malakal Protection of Civilians site—which is guarded by UN peacekeepers. Elite power struggles have consistently undermined South Sudan's transition, which was recently extended by two years due to the slow implementation of the peace deal. Experts say the agreement may actually be doing more harm than good, though diplomats still consider it the only game in town.
When mutinous soldiers ousted Burkina Faso's democratically elected president in late January, they vowed to do a better job of securing the Sahelian country from attacks linked to al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State. But violence has only increased over the past months, draining public confidence in the junta, threatening coastal West African states, and worsening a humanitarian crisis that has now displaced almost two million people–around one in 10 Burkinabé.
A graduation ceremony this week saw the first batch of fighters integrated into South Sudan's unified national army—a key part of the peace deal signed in 2018. More than 20,000 troops (including former rebels) were told by President Salva Kiir that they now represent the South Sudanese people (rather than rival military parties). Graduation was initially planned for 2019, but stalled along with much of the peace deal. Delays meant the post-war transition—due to end next year—was extended by the government on Aug. 4. Kiir said the two-year extension was necessary to avoid rushed elections and relapse into civil war. The president blamed funding gaps and climate disasters for the hold-up. Donors blamed the government. UN experts say the peace process has itself become a motor for violence, as factions vie to position themselves for the transition.
The concluding of a peace agreement between Senegal and separatist rebels in Casamance is being hailed by the government as "an important step" toward ending the 40-year conflict in the southern region. The deal was signed Aug. 5 in neighboring Guinea-Bissau by a delegate from President Macky Sall's administration and Cesar Atoute Badiate, leader of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC), which has waged an insurgency since 1982. The long-simmering conflict was re-ignited in January 2021 when the Senegalese army launched a major offensive against the rebels. The Casamance rebels, accused of trafficking in timber and cannabis, have often taken refuge in Guinea-Bissau or Gambia. But Seydi Gassama, director of Amnesty International Senegal, noted that the MFDC is now but one of several rebel factions. "The negotiations must expand to include these factions so that a peace deal can be quickly signed with all the factions and peace can be established throughout all of Casamance," Gassama said. (North Africa Post, VOA)
Fighting between Hausa and Berta tribespeople broke out in Sudan's Blue Nile state last week, leaving dozens dead. The clashes, centered on the localities of Gaissan, Roseiris and Wad Al-Mahi, apparently began in a land dispute. Tensions were elevated following calls to recognize a chiefdom for the Hausa people, who originate from Nigeria but have been settling lands in the region for generations. Authorities have imposed a curfew and mobilized the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to the state, ostensibly to restore calm. But the Forces for Freedom & Changes (FFC) opposition coalition accused the military of instigating the conflict by encouraging Hausa demands to establish a chiefdom in territory traditionally inhabited by the Hamaj, a clan of the Berta people. Before a 2020 peace deal, many Hausa served in paramilitary forces to help the regime fight the SPLM-N rebels. "The…FFC hold the coup authority fully responsible for the successive renewal of these events in most parts of the country," the opposition group said in a statement. (Sudan Tribune)
After three years of conflict, a tentative peace process is underway between the Cameroon government and scessionist rebels demanding independence for the country's two western anglophone regions. Cameroon is a majority francophone country, and its Northwest and Southwest regions complain that they have been deliberately marginalized by the central government in Yaounde. What began as a protest movement in 2016, calling for federalism, degenerated into fighting and a demand for full independence after the government clamped down on the movement.
In Episode 128 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg provides an in-depth analysis of the under-reported multi-sided armed conflict and deepening human rights crisis in Colombia on the eve of an historic run-off election that poses two populist "outsider" candidates for the presidency: Gustavo Petro, a former guerilla leader and Colombia’s first leftist presidential contender, versus Rodolfo Hernández, a right-wing construction magnate whose pugnacious swagger inevitably invites comparison to Donald Trump. This turning point comes as Colombia has established a new "partnership" with NATO, obviously in response to Venezuela's deepening ties with Russia. Yet Colombia's armed forces continue to collaborate with the outlaw paramilitary groups that terrorize campesino and indigenous communities. If elected, Petro will face the challenge of breaking the state-paramilitary nexus, and charting a course independent of the Great Powers. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Despite a peace process that has faltered under President Ivan Duque, the internal war in Colombia continues nearly across the country—now involving multiple armed actors: remnant guerilla groups, resurgent paramilitary forces, regional cartels, and the official security forces. Thousands have been displaced in recent months, as campesino and indigenous communities are either caught in the crossfire or explicitly targeted.