Briefing Paper

Crisis Watch

“Three actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and none improved in November 2009, according to the new issue of the International Crisis Group’s monthly bulletin CrisisWatch, released today. In Yemen, ongoing fighting in the northern Saada region between the government and Houthi-led rebels spilled across the country’s border when the rebels launched an incursion into the Jebel Dukhan area of neighbouring Saudi Arabia on 3 November. Saudi forces responded with a major offensive to force rebels back from their southern border and continuing airstrikes and shelling into rebel-held areas inside Yemen. The violence has forced thousands from their homes, bringing the number displaced since the start of the Saada conflict in 2004 to over 175,000. Tensions also remained high in the south, with five people killed in clashes between protesters and security forces at a southern separatist rally on 25 November. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the northwest province of Equateur erupted in violent clashes over farming and fishing rights in late October and November. At least 100 civilians and 26 police have been killed in the fighting so far and tens of thousands displaced internally and to neighbouring Republic of Congo. The attacks have created a fresh humanitarian crisis in a country already reeling from the repercussions of a military operation against FDLR rebels in the east. November also brought a sharp escalation in tensions between Venezuela and Colombia, as Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez lashed out over a controversial deal authorising the U.S. to use several military bases on Colombian territory for counter-narcotics operations. Chávez on 9 November issued strong statements warning of a possible U.S. or Colombian attack and urging his military and population to “prepare for war”. Caracas has since deployed some 15,000 troops to increase security along the Colombian border and imposed further restrictions on bilateral trade, prompting strong condemnation from Bogotá.”