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Several Hundred Killed in Flare Up of Sectarian Violence in South Sudan

The fledgling government of South Sudan is launching a campaign this week to disarm tribal militias in Jonglei state, which has been a flashpoint of ethnic violence in recent months. Unfortunately, it seems that one tribal militia wanted to exact some revenge on their rivals before the government came to take away their guns. “Members of Jonglei state’s Murle tribe attacked people from the Lou Nuer group in an area near the Ethiopian border over the weekend, South Sudan’s military spokesman Philip Aguer said. Citing reports from local officials, he said that up to 300 people may have been killed in the raids…The attack was apparently in response to Lou Nuer raids on Murle settlements in December last year, including on the town of Pibor, which killed hundreds of people. Two United Nations officials confirmed that the raids against the Lou Nuer camps had taken place, but said they could not yet confirm specific numbers of casualties. (Reuters http://bit.ly/yI1v3d)

Kinda, Sorta Diplomatic Breakthrough on Syria?

The headlines from a Security Council meeting on the middle east, which was attended by the likes of Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, tended to focus on some barbs traded between Russia and the west over Syria. As has been the case since the outbreak of the conflict, Russia holds mosy of the diplomatic cards. So, it was interesting to see some momentum toward a “5 point plan” hammered out between Russia and the Arab League this weekend. “Lavrov flew to New York from Cairo, where he had a tense meeting with Arab League foreign ministers. They have endorsed a plan for Assad to hand power to his vice president, but the Russians are adamantly opposed to any resolution endorsing regime change.In the end, the Arab League and Lavrov agreed on a plan that the Russia foreign minister said could lead to an early solution of the Syrian crisis: an immediate cease-fire, a clause preventing foreign intervention, assurances about humanitarian aid, an impartial monitoring mechanism and an endorsement of the mission by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, the new U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria…Lavrov described Annan’s mission as launching political dialogue between the government and all opposition groups but never mentioned the previous Arab League plan calling for a political transition. Clinton and her French and British allies said that plan and last month’s General Assembly resolution backing the plan are the basis of the Lavrov-Arab League agreement.” (AP http://bit.ly/zx8IJr)

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