Saturday, February 3

Saturday, February 3

BACK TO THE TABLE Sudanese negotiations stoke hopes for peace Sudan’s government will begin weekend negotiations with South Sudan rebel

BACK TO THE TABLE

Sudanese negotiations stoke hopes for peace

sudan_south_sudan_negotiations

Photo: AP

Sudan’s government will begin weekend negotiations with South Sudan rebel forces today in Addis Ababa.

The meeting aims to resolve a 6-year old separatist conflict in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), who seek to add the areas to South Sudan. The violence is also intertwined with the war in Darfur, a province in the east that pits the Sudanese government against primarily non-Arab rebel forces.

Recently, SPLM-N has been losing ground and facing internal divisions. If an agreement is not reached soon, the rebels have threatened guerrilla tactics as a last resort, taking the fight into the bush and prolonging the bloody struggle.

With the Sudanese government currently fighting on two fronts, both sides are looking for resolution. This, accompanied by a recent four-month extension of a ceasefire, bodes well for peace. However, previous treaties have often been short-lived. Thus, even if representatives find success in this weekend’s negotiations, expect lasting peace in Sudan to prove more elusive.

PAK-AFGHAN RELATIONS

High-level Pakistani delegation to visit Kabul amid tensions

pakistan-afghanistan-meeting

Photo: Reuters

Top Pakistani intelligence officials will arrive in Kabul for diplomatic talks today. The meeting comes days after the Afghan capital was hit by a deadly terror attack that killed over 100 when a vehicle disguised as an ambulance exploded in the city.

Afghan officials say they have evidence linking Pakistani-based insurgents to the attack, a claim that provoked a small scale protest earlier this week where chants of “death to Pakistan” could be heard.

Relations have long been strained between the countries due to numerous historical disagreements, ranging from border disputes to terrorism. Today, the primary issue lies in suspicions that Pakistan harbours insurgent forces, such as the Taliban; Pakistan has denied these accusations.

Escalating tensions place some 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan at risk of being forcibly returned to their homeland, many of whom fled the country’s violence decades ago. Doing so would further destabilise Afghanistan and see tremendous international backlash. Instead, expect a mass return to be used as a bargaining chip in the de-escalation negotiations to come.

UNDER PRESSURE

Internal pressure to shape future of Turkey’s largest opposition party

turkey-chp

Photo: Reuters/Osman Orsal

Turkey’s opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) holds its general congress today, which will likely result in a leadership challenge to Party Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Despite a significant effort to prevent intraparty opposition, as many as three challengers will argue they can better oppose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The unprecedented leadership challenge highlights discontent with Kilicdaroglu, who has presided over the party’s parliamentary losing streak since 2010. He has been criticised for failing to effectively challenge Turkey’s expanding executive influence. Any leadership change is expected to focus efforts on reorganising Turkey’s opposition at a grass-roots level to more effectively mobilise discontent with the government’s increasing powers.

In the face of strong popular support for President Erdogan, expect the CHP congress to yield to significant internal pressure and elect a new chairman. Regardless, do not expect any significant change in the opposition’s electoral prospects in the near-term.