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ON OUR RADAR
Three conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  
 

➤ Burkina Faso: A deadly attack on a Protestant church in the country’s north killed six people, including a pastor, on Sunday, days after gunmen targeted a school in the same region. Crisis Group expert Rinaldo Depagne says this is the first time a church has been attacked since 2015, reflecting the escalating violence that Burkina has suffered during the past four years. 

➤ Iran: The U.S. ended waivers granting eight countries exemptions from its sanctions on Iranian oil sales. Crisis Group expert Naysan Rafati says while the move will likely increase Iran’s financial malaise, the policy impact of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign is less assured. The more the Trump administration succeeds in pressuring Iran economically, the less Tehran has to lose if it decides to take retaliatory measures of its own.

 Venezuela: A short-lived military revolt led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, involving skirmishes between pro-government and pro-opposition forces, was quickly subdued by security forces on Tuesday. Crisis Group expert Ivan Briscoe says the clear lesson from the 30 April events is that there can be no “winner-take-all” solution to Venezuela’s protracted crisis.

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ON OUR RADAR
Three conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  
 

➤ Sri Lanka: A spate of lethal bombings on Saturday allegedly perpetrated by a little-known Islamist militant group with foreign backing killed at least 250 people. Crisis Group expert Alan Keenan says Sri Lanka’s worst-ever terrorist attack could heighten intercommunal tensions by increasing already powerful anti-Muslim sentiments across society and strengthening the hand of the Sinhala nationalist opposition.

➤ Korean Peninsula: Kim Jong-un arrived in Russia on Wednesday for a summit with President Putin. Amid an ailing peace process between Pyongyang and Washington, says Crisis Group expert Christopher Green, Kim hopes to obtain Russian diplomatic support, heap pressure upon the international sanctions regime and, by expanding trade, reduce North Korea's economic dependence on China.

 Sudan: Three members of the ruling Military Transition Council offered their resignations on Wednesday, amid continued pressure from thousands of protesters for a civilian-led government. Crisis Group expert Alan Boswell says the opposition has decided to re-engage in talks with the council but short of a transition to civilian rule, as protesters demand, unrest on the streets is likely to persist.   

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ON OUR RADAR
Three conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  
 

➤ Libya: The Libya National Army (LNA) offensive on Tripoli suffered a major set back late this week, when government-backed armed groups managed to push LNA forces out of their strongholds in the southern and eastern outskirts of the capital. Crisis Group expert Claudia Gazzini says that the situation on the ground is still in flux but at this point the LNA’s initial hopes of swiftly controlling Tripoli have been dampened.  

➤ Nicaragua: On Tuesday, the government released 36 political prisoners alongside 600 common criminals ahead of the one-year anniversary of a mass civic uprising that was met with lethal state force. Crisis Group expert Tiziano Breda says the release is aimed at persuading foreign powers of the government’s commitment to pacify the country. However, social polarisation, a shrinking economy and the lack of a negotiated political settlement are likely to continue fuelling protests.

 Sudan: Thousands of demonstrators continue to maintain pressure on the ruling Military Transition Council after forcing the resignations of the council’s leader and Sudan’s intelligence chief. Crisis Group expert Alan Boswell says the sustained momentum has emboldened the protest movement, yet the country's ruling security group continues to resist demands to immediately cede power to a civilian-led government.

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ON OUR RADAR
Four conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  
 

➤ Afghanistan: Three U.S. servicemen were killed on Monday by a Taliban suicide bomb near Bagram Airbase north of Kabul. Crisis Group expert Borhan Osman says attacks usually increase in the spring and summer months and this year, facing incentives to improve their military position as peace talks get underway, both the government and the Taliban have already declared a formal start to offensive operations.

➤ Algeria: Abdelkader Bensalah, the speaker of Algeria’s upper house, was appointed interim president for a 90-day period on Tuesday, the same day that police for the first time resorted to tear gas to disperse protesters in Algiers. Crisis Group expert Michaël Ayari says Bensalah’s announcement on Wednesday that elections will be held on 4 July is unlikely to satisfy the demands of demonstrators, who are still mobilised and asking for immediate concrete measures to dismantle the "regime/system". 

 Libya: The UN on Tuesday postponed the national conference scheduled for 14-15 April, citing escalating violence and the rising casualties in Tripoli as the Libyan National Army (LNA) continues its offensive. Crisis Group expert Claudia Gazzini says international actors' calls for restraint will not be effective unless backed up by the credible threat of sanctions and a set of incentives that address the warring sides’ core political and financial concerns.

➤ Sudan: President Omar al-Bashir was removed from power on Thursday by the Sudanese army, which subsequently dissolved the government, suspended the constitution and declared a curfew designed to force out thousands of protesters camping outside the defence ministry. Crisis Group expert Murithi Mutiga says the coup will do little to appease protesters and unless generals hand power to a civilian-led transitional authority, demonstrations will continue.

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ON OUR RADAR
Four conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  
 

➤ Algeria: Following six weeks of popular unrest and growing pressure in recent days from Army Chief of Staff Ahmed Gaid Salah, President Bouteflika resigned on Tuesday. Crisis Group expert Michaël Ayari says if protesters maintain the same levels of determination at demonstrations on Friday and thereafter, the army itself will come under increasing pressure to give clear signs that the political system that Algerians oppose is being dismantled.

➤ China-Taiwan: On Sunday two Chinese fighter jets crossed a tacit maritime border separating Chinese and Taiwanese waters. Crisis Group expert Laurel Miller says the latest incident has heightened tensions in Beijing and Taipei's already fraught relationship and appears to have increased Taiwan's resolve to respond to any future incursions.

➤ Libya: Defying international admonitions against advancing into western Libya, on Wednesday the Libyan National Army (LNA) seized the town of Gharian, 100 km south of Tripoli. Crisis Group expert Claudia Gazzini warns that the advance risks triggering an escalation as apprehension grows among forces allied to the Tripoli-based government and could jeopardise the UN-hosted National Conference scheduled for 14-16 April.

➤ Venezuela: The pro-government Constituent Assembly stripped opposition leader Juan Guaidó of his parliamentary immunity on Tuesday, accusing him of defying a travel ban and usurping presidential functions. Crisis Group expert Phil Gunson says the move is a further tightening of the noose, following the arrest of Guaido's chief of staff, but that the government may yet hold off from detaining him, preferring to wait for his popularity to decline.

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ON OUR RADAR
Three conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  
 

➤ Mali: In an attack on the village of Ogossagou, an ethnic armed group killed at least 157 people on Saturday, the latest episode of ethnic-based violence motivated by tensions over land and anxiety over jihadist groups. Crisis Group expert Jean-Hervé Jezequel says violence affects all communities but the pace, scale and locations of massacres specifically targeting the Peul community are increasing.

Israel/Palestine: Following a violent flare-up triggered by rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, a tentative calm appeared to take hold on Wednesday following mediation efforts by Egyptian and UN delegations. Crisis Group expert Tareq Baconi says that while neither side desires all-out war, the fragile ceasefire is set to come under additional strain as Palestinians prepare to mark the one year anniversary of the “Great March of Return” on 30 March and the “Nakba” on 15 May.

➤ Yemen: Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen entered its fifth year on Tuesday. Crisis Group expert Peter Salisbury says that optimism in the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement has faded since December and if parties fail to implement it soon, particularly in Hodeida, we may see a dramatic escalation in violence and the prospects for peace significantly delayed. 

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ON OUR RADAR
Four conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  
 

➤ Algeria: Deputy Prime Minister Ramtane Lamamra embarked on a foreign tour this week, announcing in Moscow that the date of new presidential elections will be determined during an inclusive national conference. Crisis Group expert Michaël Ayari says much now depends on protesters’ determination to demand Bouteflika's departure, whether opposition groups propose viable alternatives to the plan and whether the army chief of staff Gaid Salah will directly intervene in politics.

➤ Kazakhstan: Long-time President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation on Tuesday after nearly 30 years in office, handing power to regime veteran Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Crisis Group expert Olga Oliker says it is almost certain that Nazarbayev and his inner circle have had this planned for some time and are implementing their own version of a managed transition.

➤ Israel/Palestine: President Trump on Thursday called for U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a region captured from Syria in 1967 and formally annexed in 1981. Crisis Group expert Ofer Zalzberg says formal U.S. recognition is an ominous step that could lay the ground for recognition of future Israeli annexation of the West Bank or parts of it. 

Ukraine-Russia: Moscow on Monday marked the five-year anniversary of its annexation of Crimea and announced plans to deploy strategic bombers to the Black Sea peninsula. Crisis Group expert Anna Arutunyan says Moscow is committed to treating the annexation of Crimea as a fait accompli and described its deployment of strategic bombers as a response to the U.S. Aegis Ashore missile defence system in Romania. 

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