STAND has decided to highlight the most important events of the past week by using pictures of important moments, meetings, and life throughout our conflict zones. We have pictures going over events in Syria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Sudan, Egypt, and the Central African Republic.
The United States and Russia reached an agreement on Saturday calling for the destruction or removal of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid 2014. Under the agreement, Syria must provide an inventory of its chemical arsenal to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) by the end of the week. On Monday, President Obama signed an order allowing the US to freely send protective equipment and training against chemical weapons attacks to the OPCW as well as approved rebel groups and nongovernmental organizations working within Syria.
While the agreement explicitly refers to a plan for a United Nations Security Council resolution under chapter 7 of the UN charter, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov called reports that the deal included a threat of military force “distorted”. US officials have stated that a unilateral American attack remains a possibility should diplomacy fail. The deal also included an agreement for the US and Russia to renew efforts to convene a peace conference between the Assad regime and rebel forces that has thus far proved elusive.
Inspectors reported to the United Nations Security Council on Monday that they found “clear and convincing evidence” that a large chemical attack was carried out in Syria last month. Although the report itself does not state who is responsible for the attack, the United States and its Western allies cited parts of the report as evidence of the Assad regime’s guilt.
Following the Russian-American deal on removing or destroying the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons, United Nations Security Council negotiations began on Tuesday. Anonymous diplomats have said that disagreements arose over the draft put forward by the United States, Britain, and France over the threat of military force to enforce the agreement, whether or not to condemn the Assad regime for the chemical weapons attack, and whether or not to refer the suspected perpetrators of the attack to the International Criminal Court.
A car bomb on the Syrian-Turkish border was reported to have killed 7 and wounded at least 20 people. The bombing took place at a roadblock held by Islamist brigades at the entrance of a rebel-held crossing on Tuesday. The day before the explosion, Turkey shot down a Syrian helicopter in Turkish airspace.
Opposition activists reported Tuesday that rebel groups have intensified their blockade of many government-held areas of northern Aleppo to include a highway previously left open to civilians. This has caused a rapid increase in food scarcity and prices in government-held areas, and many activists have condemned the tactic.
The humanitarian crisis in Syria continues to intensify. A group of 55 doctors and medical professionals wrote in an open letter to one of the world’s most respected medical journals, the Lancet, warning that the Syrian healthcare system is “at breaking point”. The letter, set to be published Friday, states that the impending medical crisis is due to hospital staff being attacked, forced to flee, or imprisoned, as well as attacks on hospitals, and humanitarian organizations being denied access to patients.
Talks between the Congolese government and M23 rebels, which stalled earlier this year, resumed last week under the mediation of Ugandan Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga. This round of talks is set to last two weeks, and Kiyonga announced after the first day that the groups had reached a draft of a peace agreement. Late last week, the Ugandan government announced that it was encouraged by the progress in the talks and by the commitment shown by both sides.
The Congolese government has announced that it is willing to grant amnesty to most, though not all, M23 rebels. Regional heads of state have called for M23, as well as other rebel groups such as the Rwandan FDLR, to disband.
Representatives from the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Myanmar government met earlier this week to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire in October as well as other issues relating to internally displaced persons. The KIO is the last remaining major rebel group to have yet sign a ceasefire agreement with the Myanmar government, which hopes to have nationwide peace with all ethnic nationalities for the month of October. The Kachin Independence Army, the armed wing of the KIO, consists of about 10,000 fighters and has been fighting the Myanmar government since June 2011. It is thought that fighting has displaced more than 100,000 people.
Aung San Suu Kyi and the Dalai Lama met in Prague, Czech Republic to attend the 17th Forum 2000 Conference on Societies in Transition. Suu Kyi, a Burmese democracy icon and MP, has expressed her intention to run for president in 2015.
The U.S. Presidential Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth met with Al-Khair al-Fahim, the head of the Sudanese envoy to the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) to discuss the ongoing dispute between the north and the south regarding the oil rich region. The two countries continue to squabble for influence and oil rights as the North continually threatens to cut off southern oil exports to ports in the north. Booth later flew to Juba to further encourage progress on the issue.
A Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier maintains his post in Jonglei State. Over the past year reports have continued to surface showing evidence of SPLA soldiers attacking civilian communities in the region as they battle against rebel factions primarily led by David Yau Yau. SPLA spokespersons uphold that they are simply combating rebel groups while several NGOs and other news outlets claims civilian targeting especially against the Murle community continue to take place.
On Monday in the Sinai Peninsula, a bomb exploded on the road near the Gaza Strip. The bomb was allegedly targeting a bus of police recruits, and nine were wounded as a result. The bombings follow a recent large-scale military offensive to combat growing violence in the region. Just in the past few weeks, Sinai has seen 20,000 new military combatants enter the region. As allegations continue of Islamist involvement in bombings like this one, demonstrators of the Muslim Brotherhood continue to protest against the interim government.
Shown above is a “Rabaa” sign, recently utilized by pro-Morsi supporters. The sign, refers to the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the site of a violent confrontation between Morsi’s followers and the Egyptian army in which hundreds or perhaps thousands of people were killed. This shift, according to several Egypt experts, signals a shift from the Brotherhood seeking international legitimacy to seeking internal legitimacy.
A week ago in the Central African Republic, Muslim residents of Bouca were attacked. The attack occurred at 5 am, at the time of morning prayers, leaving at least 40 people dead. Survivors from the attack indicated that the aggressors were also residents of Bouca
According to Michel Djotodia, the president of CAR, the Seleka rebel group no longer exists. Last Friday, President Michel Djotodia announced that the Seleka rebel group, who helped him gain presidency, has been dissolved.