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News & Views Monday 3rd Augut to Sunday 9th August 2015

Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees - July 2015

Deteriorated Situations: Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Kashmir, Turkey, Yemen

July saw a worsening of the situation in Yemen, where nearly 2,000 civilians have been killed since the war started in March, while in Turkey a dramatic escalation in violence led to the collapse of the state's two-year-old ceasefire with Kurdish insurgents, and the launch of attacks on Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) positions in Syria. Meanwhile, a surge in clashes in Kashmir aggravated tensions between India and Pakistan, attacks by IS-linked militants escalated in Egypt, and Cameroon and Chad were both targeted by deadly and potentially destabilising Boko Haram raids and bombings. In contrast, the Colombian government and FARC rebels took steps to bring the peace process back on course after a series of setbacks, and South Sudan is faced with a unique chance to negotiate an end to its devastating conflict. Lastly, the nuclear agreement reached between the P5+1/EU3+3 and Iran in mid-July, provided it is approved by lawmakers on all sides, could mark a historic victory for diplomatic efforts in the face of entrenched global security challenges.

The conflict in Yemen deepened despite hopes for a Ramadan ceasefire. The UN-announced civilian death toll approached 1,900 as of 28 July, with 202 deaths in the previous twelve days and humanitarians warning of an impending famine. In mid-July, anti-Huthi/Saleh fighters backed by the Saudi-led coalition launched a major military offensive, retaking Aden and surrounding areas. In turn, the Huthis threatened a significant military operation in response to increased airstrikes. Absent a concerted diplomatic push for compromise between the warring parties, this latest offensive risks fuelling and prolonging Yemen's violent war.

The fragile 2013 ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) collapsed following a dramatic increase in violence in Kurdish areas in the south east, and on 24 July Ankara started bombing PKK positions in northern Iraq. After a suicide bomb attack in Suruç near the Syrian border on 20 July, which left 32 people dead and was blamed on the Islamic State, Ankara launched airstrikes on IS positions in Syria on 25 July. Framing its actions against the PKK and IS as a "synchronised fight against terror", the government, which also opened its bases to U.S.-coalition led forces fighting IS, has significantly scaled up Turkey's involvement in the Syrian conflict, while PKK-related violence looks likely to worsen. ?

Elsewhere, militant violence in Egypt continued to escalate following the late June assassination of the general prosecutor, with authorities launching airstrikes in the aftermath of deadly attacks by IS-linked militants in Sinai. Also, Nigeria's Boko Haram (BH) militant sect launched several deadly attacks in neighbouring Chad and Cameroon, and the Line of Control dividing Kashmir and the Working Boundary dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir witnessed a surge of clashes.

In a positive step forward, a conflict resolution opportunity emerged in South Sudan after months of stalemate. On 24 July, regional and international actors including IGAD, the African Union, the UN, China, and the U.S. endorsed a draft peace agreement for South Sudan's ongoing conflict. In a new report "Keeping Faith with the IGAD Peace Process", Crisis Group called for the international community to support a realistic, regionally centred strategy to end the war, underpinned by coordinated threats and inducements.

Meanwhile, Colombia's peace process re-emerged from its deepest crisis yet as the FARC announced a new temporary, unilateral ceasefire starting 20 July, and the government suspended its bombardments on guerrilla camps. This followed a joint announcement on 12 July to accelerate confidence-building measures and speed up the negotiations. In addition to these efforts, Crisis Group's new report argues that the government needs to broaden the social and political base of the talks, and reinforce the message that peace will benefit all Colombians.

After twelve years of crisis and 22 months of arduous negotiations, Iran and the P5+1/EU3+3 reached a historic agreement in Vienna on 14 July. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) establishes the most rigorous verification and inspection mechanism ever negotiated and rolls back one of the most extensive sanctions regimes ever imposed on any country. In a statement welcoming the agreement, Crisis Group calls for domestic parties in the U.S. and Iran to approve the deal, and to preserve momentum to ensure its implementation.

Improved Situations: Colombia

August 2015 Outlook

Conflict Risk Alert: Turkey, Yemen

Conflict Resolution Opportunity: Iran, South Sudan

Download the full report <> CW/July/144


How Abstruse Immigration Law has Become!

Iqbal & Ors, R (Application Of) v SSHD [2015] EWCA Civ 838 (30 July 2015): There are three interrelated appeals all concerned with the proper construction of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971. This section has the effect of automatically extending a person's leave to remain in the UK pending the determination of an application to vary the period of leave, but only if the application to vary is made before the original leave expires. In each case the appellant made an application before leave expired which was treated as invalid by the Secretary of State because not presented in accordance with the rules. In each case there was a further application made after leave had expired, which was unsuccessful. In each case, if the original invalid application had triggered the automatic extension, the application would have had to be considered differently and may well have succeeded. The appellants submit that on a proper construction of section 3C, leave had been extended notwithstanding that the original applications were invalid under the rules.

All three appeals failed, however Lord Justice Elias had this to say:

I cannot, however, leave this judgment without observing how abstruse the law has become in this area. That is always a weakness but particularly so when so many immigrants are litigants in person with precious little, if any, understanding of English law. It is telling that in this case the Secretary of State had changed her view as to the proper interpretation of section 3C, an important provision which affects the legal rights of immigrants in numerous ways. Also it is difficult to identify precisely which laws were in force at any particular time. We were told that the website will now reveal an up to date set of rules, and that is an important and welcome development. But without analysing the relevant changes, it can be hard to discern which rules were in place at an earlier stage when particular disputed decisions were taken. The overriding impression given is that the rules are changed in a piecemeal way to deal with particular problems as and when they arise. But firefighting is not the way to produce a rational or consistent set of rules; and the process does not sit easily with the rule of law, and in particular the principle that litigants should be able to discover the laws applicable to their circumstances. There is an overwhelming need for a rationalisation and simplification of this area of law.

Last updated 3 August, 2015