Four actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and none improved in May 2010, according to the new issue of the International Crisis Group’s monthly bulletin CrisisWatch, released today.
Israeli commandos killed at least nine people when they raided a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza on 31 May. Full details are not yet clear but the incident has already thrown into question recently launched proximity talks between the Palestinians and Israel. The international community has been swift to condemn Israel’s actions and the UN Security Council has called for an impartial investigation. However, the event has underscored the failure of a much broader policy for which Israel is not solely responsible. Many in the international community have been complicit in isolating Gaza in the hope of weakening Hamas, an approach that has ultimately harmed the people of Gaza without loosening Hamas’s control.
May also saw renewed violence in the streets of Bangkok. Clashes between anti-government Red Shirt protesters and security forces that resulted in scores of deaths in April escalated this month, leaving at least 54 people dead. Soldiers removed the Red Shirts from the capital on 19 May and the government has since lifted a curfew imposed on Bangkok and 28 other provinces. But a state of emergency remains and divisions between the Thai establishment and the protesters, many of whom support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have widened. The government has so far failed to address the underlying causes of the protests, which are likely to have long-term implications for Thailand’s stability.
Tensions continued to mount on the Korean Peninsula after investigators announced that a South Korean ship that sunk in March had been hit by a North Korean torpedo. Pyongyang continues to deny responsibility for the sinking which killed 46 people. With Seoul now threatening to take the case to the UN Security Council, recent events have highlighted the challenges facing South Korea – as well as China and the international community more broadly – in dealing with its volatile northern neighbour.
Security also deteriorated in India, where suspected Maoist rebels derailed a train on 28 May leaving at least 147 civilians dead. The Maoists have denied responsibility, but the incident has once again underlined the government’s failure to curb escalating insurgent violence that has become increasingly deadly in recent months.