ACLED Conflict Trend Report: Violence intensifies in the DR of Congo, in Mozambique and in Tunisia

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EACH month, ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset) researchers gather, analyse and publish data on political violence in Africa in realtime. This November 2013’s issue the report focuses on the intensification of violence in DR-Congo; persistent violence in Mali; the collapse of the peace agreement in Mozambique; ongoing unrest and several high-profile, high-intensity attacks in Nigeria; and rising unrest in Tunisia.Elsewhere on the continent, protest levels in-creased significantly in Namibia in October, while violence levels dropped in Algeria.
DR-Congo: in October both the number of events and the reported fatalities rose in the DR of Congo. The March 23 Movement (M23) has given up arms in eastern DR-Congo; from the field, the group’s demise looks due to effective soldiering on by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), bolstered by the UN’s Force Intervention Bri-gade (FIB). The mandate of the FIB was not just to resuscitate the FARDC, but to also track down and eliminate all armed groups operating in Kivu. In the past two weeks, the FARDC has taken multiple towns including Kiwanja, Rutshuru, Kibumbu and M23 camps in Rumangabo and Bunagana. What of the rest of Congolese violence? Congolese violent groups are various, often funded through illegal means, and (quite importantly) part of an intractable conflict. Moving such a conflict from Kivu will take a mighty effort, and that is just want it might get.
Mali: conflict events and associated fatalities fell slightly in Mali in October, but only after a rather sharp increase in violence in September. Both months have seen relatively high levels of violence compared to the pre-crisis levels witnessed in 2011. Islamist violence has continued in the region, with early November witnessing the abduction and murder of two French journalists in Kidal in Northern Mali. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the killings. Alongside AQIM, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) has been resurgent in the region; approximately one-quarter of non-state violence in the region is attributed to each group in October. The two militant organisations have discrete conflict profiles: AQIM has been active to a greater degree in Kidal, while violent activity attributed to MUJAO has been more persistent in Gao. Moreover, MUJAO engaging in higher levels of violence against civilians (approximately 18.2% of its activity), compared to AQIM (with civilian targeting constituting less around 8% of its actions). These distinctions highlight the need for different policy and military approaches to the two groups.
Mozambique: after months of simmering tensions, the situation in Mozambique escalated dramatically in October 2013, with the abrogation by the main opposition party, Renamo, of the peace agreement which has been in place since 1992. Technically, the announcement returns the country to a state of civil war, although a return to open war seems unlikely. However, Renamo’s forces are both limited and disorganized and Frelimo leadership seems to have made the judgment call that it does not need to concede political (or economic) power to a weak Renamo.
Nigeria: conflict events in Nigeria fell slightly in October, following a particular intense period of fighting involving Federal forces and the North-Eastern based group, Boko Haram in September. Reported fatalities also fell very considerably this month. Since 2010, Boko Haram have been the single most violent group in Nigeria, involved in over 24% of violent conflict events since January of that year. Taken together, the data clearly indicate that while individual violent events involving Boko Haram are relatively rarer in the current year than past periods, the intensity of these events has increased over time. The change over time may reflect the group’s evolving military and logistical capacity, having transformed from a militant organisation which primarily initially engaged in low-intensity assassinations of security and political personnel, to a well-armed and organised militant unit. It may also reflect increased pressure by the Federal Government on the group that, driven out of previous urban strongholds, it is now attacking  more vulnerable targets, with implications the civiliab population.
Tunisia: in October Tunisia experienced its highest number of conflict events to date in 2013, primarily owing to the surge in riots and protests that took place as a result of growing dissatisfaction with the Islamist-led government. This rise in riots and popular protests was met by the announcement that the Tunisian Ennahda party would step down following talks with its secular opposition; a move which attempts to resolve the political deadlock sparked by Mohamed Brahmi’s assassination in July. The transition to an interim government coincided a growing number of armed attacks, which culminated in the death of at least 6 officers of the National Guard in Sidi Bouzid on the 23rd October. As the government attempts to address divisions in opposing secular and moderate Islamist party, vulnerability to the proliferation of Islamist violence grows (Arab American Institute, 7th October, 2013). The success of the political roadmap carved out over the course of the next few weeks by the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) will be a test of Tunisia’s resilience towards instability.


November 2013