August 18-24, 2023 | Issue 28 - NORTHCOM/SOUTHCOM Team
Martina Sclaverano, Utsav Yadav, Pike Wipperfurth, Agathe Labadi
Evan Beachler, Editor
Date: August 18, 2023
Location: Choco, Colombia
Parties involved: Colombian President Gustav Petro; Colombian government; Ombudsman's Office of Colombia; Governor of Choco Ariel Palacios; Colombian paramilitary group, National Liberation Army (ELN); Colombian cartel, Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC) - Clan del Golfo (Gulf Clan); Columbian civilians; Panama; Colombian refugees
The event: The Ombudsman has condemned ELN’s armed strike in Chocó after the paramilitary group admitted to a tense confrontation with the Gulf Clan. A six-month ceasefire is in effect between the Colombian government and ELN, hoping the deal will end Colombia's last remaining insurgency as a part of Petro's Total Peace plan. The government agency reported that ELN carried out five armed strikes this year against the Gulf Clan, leaving more than 28,000 people displaced. ELN has denied breaking the deal and said it will continue to honor it. Palacios has called for the national government to extend a similar ceasefire deal with the cartel, arguing it will prevent the two groups from fighting each other.
Analysis & Implications:
The Colombian government will very likely launch a peace dialogue with the Gulf Clan to prevent violence from escalating with ELN. The goal of the new peace deal is to very likely revive Petro’s Total Peace plan with armed groups, including the Gulf Clan. The government will very likely treat the cartel as a political paramilitary organization rather than a criminal group to establish a long-term ceasefire deal. The peace talks will likely lead to a renewed ceasefire with the Gulf Clan and allow the government to focus on developing impoverished areas in Choco, a potential breeding ground of recruitment for the group.
If the armed conflict continues, residents of Chocó will likely migrate internally or towards nearby Panama. This migration will likely worsen the existing humanitarian crisis of refugees crossing Panama and exacerbate the presence of human smugglers in the region. There is a roughly even chance that Panama will send migrants back to Colombia, fueling a border crisis between the two countries.
Date: August 21, 2023
Location: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Parties involved: Kenya; Kenyan officials in Haiti; Kenyan peacekeeping forces; Haitian government; Haitian National Police (HNP); Haitian gangs; Haitians; Haitian community leaders; humanitarian workers located in Haiti; UN; UN Security Council (UNSC)
The event: Kenyan officials arrived in Haiti to discuss international security assistance amid escalating violence and increasing gang influence. The Haitian government first called for international security assistance in October 2022, and last month, Kenya offered to spearhead the effort. The discussions include developing an assessment for a newly forming UN-backed multinational security force tasked with supporting the Haitian National Police in combating the growing power of gangs and rampant violence across the country. Following the talks and initial assessment, a plan of action will pass to the UNSC, which will vote to approve the deployment of multinational forces. The conflict is developing into a humanitarian and security crisis as foreign aid organizations stop their operations, access to basic needs and services is restricted, powerful gangs control large territories of the country, and civilians are experiencing food insecurity, killings, kidnappings, displacement, and sexual violence.
Analysis & Implications:
The cooperation between Haiti and Kenya will likely result in heavy measures to combat gang violence. The extra support of Kenyan officers will very likely lead to more arrests of individuals linked to gangs, as more officers will likely patrol the country more extensively. The involvement of the UN will likely provide this joint force with reconnaissance drones and remote-controlled weapon systems to monitor the gangs without physically endangering security forces. The Kenyan forces will very likely face pressure to yield concrete results, likely pushing them to use a higher degree of violence to fight gang members effectively.
A segment of Haitians living in the poorest neighborhoods will likely view the presence of Kenyan peacekeeping forces with suspicion and mistrust, likely from past experiences with foreign intervention. The mistrust will likely allow gangs to expand their influence among civilians by spreading disinformation about the peacekeeping force committing human rights abuses and spreading infectious diseases. Gangs will likely use Kenyan faux pas and a lack of understanding of French or Creole to diminish the government’s legitimacy and target the Kenyan peacekeeping team, among other foreign entities, in Haiti.
Kenyan peacekeeping forces will very likely focus on securing significant areas of concern around Port-au-Prince by securing highways that deliver humanitarian goods. Kenyan peacekeepers will very likely establish security checkpoints along the principal routes to protect humanitarian workers from extortion and kidnapping. Kenyan peacekeeping troops will very likely serve as mediators between the government and the community leaders by removing blockades on major arterial routes to keep the supply of essential goods.
 Petro’s Total Peace Plan Turns One: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Council on Foreign Relations, August 2023 https://www.cfr.org/blog/petros-total-peace-plan-turns-one-good-bad-and-ugly
 ELN ordered an armed strike in Chocó despite the ceasefire with the Government: there are at least 28,000 displaced by the clashes with the Gulf clan, Infobae, August 2023 https://www.infobae.com/colombia/2023/08/17/defensoria-denuncia-paro-armado-ordenado-por-el-eln-en-el-choco-las-comunidades-estan-en-riesgo-de-desplazamiento-y-confinamiento/
 Kenyan officials meet with Haiti police to discuss gangfighting force, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/kenyan-delegation-meeting-haitian-police-chief-assess-security-force-source-2023-08-21/