Thursday Headlines

2015: The Year Refugees And Migrants Grabbed Headlines
Over two days this fall, 13,000 people arrived in Germany seeking asylum. The Wall Street Journal followed migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea as they began their long, uncertain path to residency.

Burundi’s President Vows To Fight African Union Peacekeepers Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza pledged to fight the arrival of 5,000 peacekeepers after months of violence because he said it would be seen as attack on country and violation of its borders.

“Everybody should respect the borders of Burundi. If the troops are in violation of this decision, they will have attacked Burundi, and each Burundian must stand up to fight them. The country will have been attacked – and we will fight them,” he said, according to London’s Telegraph newspaper.

Under the AU charter, the organization can intervene in a member state under “grave circumstances”, defined as “war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity”.

In December, a fact-finding mission from the African Union was dispatched to Burundi to investigate human rights abuses allegedly committed by the government, which is Hutu, against Tutsi opponents. In its preliminary findings, the AU reported that they received reports of “ongoing human rights violations and other abuses including arbitrary killings and targeted assassinations, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, arbitrary suspension and closure of some civil society organizations and the media.”

Although some have raised concerns that the situation in Burundi might dissolve into a genocidal civil war as it did in neighboring Rwanda, which has virtually the similar Hutu-Tutsi breakdown, to date, the people have not taken up arms against each other.

“But the riddle of Burundi is that it is not nearly as binary as Rwanda once was or maybe still is, despite Rwanda’s rapid development in the past 10 years. In Burundi, the population, even amid its increasingly ethnic politics, has not turned on itself in this crisis. Hutus and Tutsis continue to live together, work together and intermarry,” reports The New York Times.

2015: The Year The Non-Linear War Emerged
The last century was marked by several large scale global wars from World War I to the Vietnam War to the Persian Gulf War. Those conflicts began with clear declarations and were fought between nations. This year saw the war of tomorrow — conflicts that were mixes of psychological, media, economic, cyber, and military operations which lacked a declaration of war — emerge across the globe.

These conflicts are not black and white, but gray, very, very gray, writes Peter Pomerantsav of The Atlantic.

“In many ways, gray-zone conflicts are the dark flip side of globalization, where transnational media, economic integration, and the free movement of people create not a ‘global village,’ but an environment in which we can all mess with each other in more insidious ways,” he asserts.

In fact, two sides can work together in one circumstance, such as trade or economic matters, while also engaging militarily in another instance. The relationship between China and the US reflects this unnatural situation.

“One of the great fears in all this is that a gray-zone conflict—involving, say, U.S. and Chinese military vessels sparring in the South China Sea, or Russia threatening to deploy its nuclear arsenal—could tumble into an open one when some party miscalculates. More likely, however, is that the patterns on display in 2015 will become more pronounced in the coming year,” cautions Pomerantsav.


The National Post’s Terry Glavin Asks: Does The United Nations Do Any Good?

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