Aug 29, 2019

Colombian rebels issue call to arms 3 years after peace deal

Former senior commander Ivan Marquez (C) at an undisclosed location in Colombia announcing that the FARC is taking up arms again along with other guerrillas. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest rebel group, issued a call to arms three years after it signed a historic peace deal with the Colombian government, reports AP.

Why it matters: FARC and the Colombian government's 2016 deal ended a guerrilla war that spanned 50 years, killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions more, says NPR. But the rebel leaders now say that that President Iván Duque's government hasn't guaranteed their political rights, heating up the conflict once again.

What they're saying: Former chief rebel negotiator Luciano Marin, known as Ivan Marquez, said in a video posted online, per AP, "When we signed the accord in Havana we did so with the conviction that it was possible to change the life of the most humble and dispossessed.... But the state hasn't fulfilled its most important obligations, which is to guarantee the life of its citizens and especially avoid assassinations for political reasons."

What's happened since the peace deal:

  • "Some 7,000 rebels handed over their weapons to observers from the United Nations as part of the deal.... But smaller rebel groups and drug trafficking gangs have filled the void left by the withdrawing FARC rebels, leaving many Colombians frustrated with the slow pace of implementing the accord," writes AP.
  • Duque is accused of trying to throw out key provisions of the 2016 deal, says the Financial Times. Some former rebels allege the government is using drug charges to "hunt" them, per the New York Times.
  • Feeling frustrated by the slow peace process, Colombia's military leaders ordered soldiers to prioritize capturing and killing militants — even if it means higher civilian casualties, reports NYT.

Go deeper: The toughest challenges facing Colombia's new president

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Venezuela refugee crisis overwhelms Colombia: "We don't have the money"

Crossing the Simon Bolivar bridge into Colombia. Photo: Schneyder Mendoza/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia expects the number of Venezuelan refugees within its borders to rise from an already staggering 1.4 million to 3 million by 2021 if the current crisis continues, Ambassador Francisco Santos told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday, adding, “to be very sincere, if it goes to 3 million, we don’t have the money.”

The big picture: Venezuela’s exodus now rivals Syria’s, and countries including Ecuador and Peru are taking steps to stem the flow of refugees. Not Colombia. “With this government, with this president, that’s going to be the policy: open doors,” Santos says.

Go deeperArrowSep 20, 2019

Boris Johnson expected to call election if he loses Brexit vote

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside his official residence at 10 Downing Street in London. Photo: WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.K. government plans to table a motion to hold a general election on Oct. 14 if it's defeated by lawmakers opposed to a no-deal Brexit Tuesday, officials told British news outlets. Conservative members of parliament face expulsion from the ruling party if they vote against the government.

Why it matters: Prime Minister Boris Johnson was elected Conservative Party leader on the promise that he would deliver Brexit — with or without a deal. Rebel conservative lawmakers are joining forces with Labour to bring a bill designed to stop the U.K. from exiting the EU on Oct. 31 without a deal, per the BBC.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 3, 2019

Taliban attacks Afghan city Kunduz amid U.S. peace talks

Photo: Bashir Khan Safi/AFP/Getty Images

The Taliban carried out an attack in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan early Saturday morning, killing at least 10 civilians and wounding more than 75, as U.S. and Taliban leaders worked to negotiate a peace deal in Qatar, the AP reports.

Why it matters: Both sides have indicated they are nearing an agreement, though some members of the Taliban are resisting efforts to end the nearly 18-year war, says Al-Jazeera. The Taliban wants American troops sent home, while the U.S. wants a complete ceasefire.

Go deeperArrowAug 31, 2019