Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Week in Separatist News, Feb. 4-11, 2012


U.S. lawmakers urge Baloch freedom.  This week, Republican members of the United States Congress’s Foreign Affairs Committee, including Louie Gohmert of Texas and Dana Rohrbacher of California, criticized the human-rights crisis in Pakistan’s separatist Balochistan province and called for more respect for Balochistan’s right to self-determination.  In reply, the government in Islamabad blamed the U.S. for fomenting the break-up of their country.  Indeed, it is rare for the Balochistan crisis to show up on American foreign-policy radar, since usually the U.S. turns a blind eye to its “ally” Pakistan’s human-rights abuses, but remember there is also a Baloch separatist movement just over the border in neighboring Iran, so perhaps the Pakistani government’s interests are being temporarily shunted aside in favor a more pressing foreign-policy goal.  After all, the U.S. and Israel already encourage Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan militants to stir up separatism in the nation.  The Baloch rebellion was on this blog’s recent list of ten separatist movements to watch in 2012.

A protester waving the flag of the Baloch separatist movement.
(An earlier blog post here erroneously used the flag of Pakistan’s Balochistan province
for the Baloch people’s flag.)

South Ossetian president hospitalized.  Alla Dzhioyeva, the disputed acting president of the de facto independent Russian Federation client state the Republic of South Ossetia (which most of the world considers part of the Republic of Georgia) suffered a “hypertensive episode”—i.e., possible heart attack?—during a police raid on her headquarters.  She is reported to be in “grave” condition.

State seal of the Republic of South Ossetia

More Tibetan self-immolations.  Tibetan exile groups are reporting a growing number of Tibetan monks in the People’s Republic of China immolating themselves to protest the Han-dominated Communist government’s hegemony and the occupation of Tibet.  Most of these immolations are occurring in ethnic-Tibetan-dominated areas in neighboring provinces like Sichuan, rather than in the more closely policed Tibetan “autonomous region” itself.

Protesters with the Tibetan national flag and a portrait of the Dalai Lama

Bombing in southern Thailand.  A truck bomb killed one in new reports of unrest in southern Thailand related to Muslim, ethnically Malay separatist rebels fighting to secede from Thailand.  This is in a southern border region which used to be part of an independent Malay sultanate before the Kingdom of Siam annexed it in 1909—now a Thai region bordering Malaysia.

Saudi Shiite demonstration turns lethal.  Saudi Arabia, the heartland of Sunni Islam, is no stranger to the Sunni–Shi’a conflicts that have been dividing countries like IraqSyria, Yemen, and Bahrain during the Arab Spring unrest.  Two more unarmed protesters demanding more rights for the kingdom’s Shi’a Muslim minority were shot by security forces in the past couple days, bringing the total to seven for the past twelvemonth.  The royal family blames the unrest on Iranian provocateurs.


Sudans resume talks.  The fledgling Republic of South Sudan and its former rulers the Republic of Sudan returned to the negotiating table this week to address ongoing disagreements over oil revenues and over the still disputed regions of Abyei, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan.  But armies are massed at the border, and some still predict all-out war.

Insurgency in northern Mali intensifies.  Mali’s neighbor Mauritania and its former colonial ruler France are registering growing concern with the latest Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali’s Azawad region that is gradually turning into a full-blown separatist civil war.  Malian forces are responding with particular ferocity to the uprising, including government bombing of rebel positions in Kidal.  Tuareg separatist fighters are mostly mercenaries who were formerly partisans of Moammar al-Qaddafi in Libya’s 2011 civil war, using leftover Libyan arms.  Meanwhile, the U.S. has postponed anti-terrorist military exercises in the region.  Tens of thousands of refugees have been fleeing to Mauritania, and the Malian government claims it would like to settle the conflict by April.  (The Tuareg war was discussed at length here in a recent blog post.)

The Tuareg region in North Africa

Somaliland pursues more legitimacy.  Resulting from a new unanimity amid its internal factions, the unrecognized but fully functioning government of Somaliland, in the northwest of what the international community considers a Somalia ruled from Mogadishu, has ended a boycott of pro-Mogadishu international institutions by sending a delegate for the first time to the London Somalia Conference in England.  In the long term, Somaliland’s parliament hopes this will lead to international recognition.  Meanwhile, Somaliland’s war with its own pro-Mogadishu separatists in the Buhoodle region on its border with Ethiopia—the self-governing clan fiefdom known as the Sool, Sanaag, and Cyn State—has intensified, leading to Somaliland sacking its military commander for his failures.  Also, five Europeans—from Germany, Hungary, and Austria—were killed in an as-yet-ill-understood incident in the separatist Afar region just over the border in Ethiopia.

Somaliland’s flag superimposed upon a shape showing its boundaries

More Christian–Muslim separatist tensions in Nigeria.  Radical Muslim Boko Haram separatists in northern Nigeria (discussed in a recent blog post) may not have yet come right out yet and demanded a separate state, but a northern Hausa Muslim policeman in southeastern Nigeria sparked interethnic violence by killing a Christian Igbo bus driver who was displaying symbols of the Movement for the Actualisation of a Sovereign State of Biafra, a left-over from the brutally crushed Biafra War of the late 1960s and early ’70s (discussed recently in this blog).

Pro-Biafra rioters in southeast Nigeria this week


A court in Germany has handed down a life term to a citizen of the partially recognized Republic of Kosovo who killed two U.S. servicemen in Frankfurt last year.  The 22-year-old, Arid Uka, is being described as an ethnically-Albanian radical Muslim who had been whipped into an anti-American frenzy by jihadist propaganda.  The case highlights some of the tensions in U.S. foreign policy in the southern fringes of the former East Bloc: the 1999 secession of Kosovo and its Albanian majority from the Republic of Serbia (then known as the Federal Republic of [what was left of] Yugoslavia) was sponsored by the U.S. and western European powers, but—like Chechnya or Dagestan—the tiny region is a conduit for fundamentalist anti-Western ideology seeping into Europe.

Arid Uka, Kosovar jihadist assassin

Pseudo-state flat broke.  The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, a.k.a. Transnistria, the unrecognized pro-Moscow sliver of the ethnically-Romanian-dominated post-Soviet Republic of Moldovahas revealed that it has only $49,000 remaining in its state coffers.  It is still unclear whether this is the result of mismanagement or of embezzlement or both.  Recent talks to resolve Transnistria’s status bogged down (as discussed in this blog), with no resolution in sight.


Czech photojournalist arrested in West Papua.  Indonesian police have reportedly arrested and detained a reporter from the Czech Republic (initial reports called him a tourist; he probably used a tourist visa) for photographing a pro-independence march on the governor’s mansion in Manokwari in Indonesia’s separatist West Papua region (discussed recently in this blog).  The marchers were displaying the banned Morning Star Flag of an independent Papua.  Meanwhile, Papuan separatists shot and killed a policeman on patrol.

Demonstrators with the West Papua movement’s “Morning Star Flag”


Resurgence of white separatism in Pacific Northwest.  The Seattle Times reports that a foiled plot to bomb a Martin Luther King, Jr., Day parade in Spokane, Washington, is a symptom of a rise in white separatist activity in the Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana.  These states have been at times the (half-seriously?) hoped-for all-white “homeland” imagined by white-supremacist hate groups like the Aryan Nations, the Vanguard Kindred, and the Covenant Sword and Arm of the Lord, which were mostly dispersed and enfeebled by federal crackdowns in the 1980s and ’90s.

Aryan Nations members with their organization’s flag


Young prince unwittingly restokes Falklands conflict.  Prince William, second in line to the throne of the United Kingdom, arrived for a tour of military duty in the U.K.’s South Atlantic territory of the Falkland Islands, a move the president of Argentina, which also claims the islands, calls a provocation.  A war of words between the two countries has ensued, detailed in a recent discussion in this blog.  The British and Argentine navies fought a brief war over the archipelago, which the British won handily, in 1982.  The U.K.’s position continues to be that Falklanders are free to join Argentina or become independent if they wish it, but the islanders overwhelmingly prefer remaining British.

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