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Four conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts   


➤ Central African Republic: This week marked the first anniversary of the peace agreement between the government and fourteen armed groups aimed at ending six years of war. Crisis Group expert Richard Moncrieff says the deal has been only partially successful as smaller armed groups have broadly adhered to its terms while violence in the country’s north and centre has risen in recent months. The deal is likely to come under greater pressure ahead of elections in December 2020.  

➤ South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa assumes the rotational African Union (AU) chair this weekend when leaders meet for the annual AU summit. Crisis Group expert Elissa Jobson says South Africa has punched below its weight abroad for more than a decade, but simultaneously taking the helm at the AU and holding a seat on the UN Security Council should provide Pretoria with a rare opportunity to focus attention on deadly conflicts that are important not only to its national interests but also to the AU and UN agendas. 

➤ South Sudan: Deadlock persists in talks between President Kiir and main rebel leader Riek Machar over outstanding issues like the number and border of states. Crisis Group expert Alan Boswell warns that there is a growing risk that they fail to form a unity government by the 22 February deadline. The deadline has already been extended twice and the peace process could collapse if regional heads of state, which are due to meet in an extraordinary summit on Saturday, fail to broker a path forward. 

➤ Syria: The Russian-backed government assault on Idlib made incremental military gains while the civilian toll continues to rise. If the government opts for an all-out offensive, it could trigger the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the Syrian war. Crisis Group expert Dareen Khalifa warns that it would also escalate tensions between Russia and Turkey, risk further confrontations between Turkish and Syrian forces, push more Syrians toward, and possibly across, the Turkish border, and scatter jihadist fighters across the region.
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