"The deployment of French troops and the bolstering of African Union troops in the CAR has done little to ease tensions; sectarian driven attacks continue to tear the country apart. In the capital, Bangui, religious strife has pushed half of the citizens out of their homes. The number of people congregating in makeshift camps outside the airport has doubled to 100,000 in the past week. The situation in Bangui, where most foreign troops are based, appears 'to be out of control' and violence is forcing medical charities to cut services to a minimum at airport clinics, said Médecins Sans Frontières," writes the Economist.
"There are serious downsides to treating situations like the current crisis in C.A.R. as a genocide. Misdiagnosing the problem can mean taking the wrong actions to resolve it. The playbook for an international response operation to mass atrocities calls for neutralizing perpetrators and protecting unarmed civilians; it is not designed to manage a conflict among many armed actors, each with a distinct civilian constituency," writes Alex de Waal in the New York Times.
"The African Standby Force was designed to provide the African Union with exactly the kind of military capability it needs to respond rapidly to critical situations of these kinds….But the force, with its 5 regional Standby Brigades, has failed to materialise. The concept has been a signal failure. Differences between African states run far too deep for them to be used in the continent's many crises. When Ivory Coast and Mali fell apart it was the old colonial power – France – that came to the rescue," writes Martin Plaut in African Arguments.
CFR's Global Conflict Tracker
The Center for Preventive Action's Global Conflict Tracker is an interactive guide to U.S. conflict prevention priorities in 2014. It provides an up-to-date overview of each ongoing or potential conflict featured in the most recent Preventive Priorities Survey and features additional background information. Take a look.
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South Korea Presses North on Family Reunions Proposal
Seoul pressed Pyongyang on Friday to accept a proposal to facilitate the reunion of families separated after the Korean War during the upcoming Lunar New Year (Yonhap). North Korea rejected the proposal on Thursday, citing the South's upcoming joint military exercises with the United States as a provocation.
BAHRAIN: The Sunni-led government in Manama suspended national reconciliation talks meant to resolve tensions after the government repression of mass protests in 2011. The talks had been long stalemated and boycotted by the main Shiite opposition group (BBC).
Carnegie Moscow Center director Dmitri Trenin explains the root causes of the North Caucasus insurgency.
FRANCE: Far-right leader Marine Le Pen promised that nationalist parties, expected to make gains in May's European Parliament elections, will block further EU integration (FT).
First Guantanamo Parole Board Clears Yemeni for Eventual Transfer
A Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo was recommended for transfer by a board that met in Washington, the Pentagon said Thursday. The Obama administration had classified Mahmud Mujahid among the prisoners it said could not be prosecuted but was too dangerous to be released; he is the first of this group to be approved for transfer (Miami Herald).