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Security Council Situation Report 11 November 2018

Situation Report on Matters Pertaining to International Peace and Security

This update complements the brief background notes already published in the Issues at AMUN handbook. Please read the Issues at AMUN book before turning to this update.


Beginning on 15 November, Rohingya Muslim families will begin to be repatriated to Myanmar from refugee camps in Bangladesh. However, dozens of these families have fled the camp, unwilling to return to Myanmar, where they say they will still be unsafe. Buddhists in Myanmar have staged large protests against the return of the Rohingya.

The government of Bangladesh has stated that it will not force anyone to return and has enlisted the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to determine whether the Rohingya are willing to move back to Myanmar. The UNHCR has advocated that the refugees be allowed to visit their homelands to see conditions for themselves before being repatriated.

Myanmar has stated that this first group of refugees will be fairly processed, but only if they accept National Verification Cards and agree to remain within Maungdaw township. Most Rohingya reject these cards because they feel it designates them as foreigners, not citizens, and many refugees demand they be allowed freedom of movement before they will agree to return.

The Middle East

Sectarian violence continues in Afghanistan as fighting in Kabul’s Jagori district killed 25 on 10 November, and a suicide bomber near Kabul’s Pashtunistan Square killed 6 and injured 20 on 12 November. The Taliban continues to attack sections of Kabul and to clash with government security forces and militia. The Afghan government is struggling to control the districts under seige, and casualties among security forces have reached record levels.

Millions continue to be displaced in Yemen. The country is overrun with violence, disease and famine. Saudi-Emirati backed forces continue to intensify their efforts against the Houthi rebels for control of Hodeidah, a strategic port city where the majority of foreign aid enters the war-ravaged nation. Civilian casualties are extremely high. Fighting in Hodeida has caused many medical staff to flee the city’s al-Thawra hospital, as the Houthis are reinforcing their positions nearby. The United Kingdom’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in mid-November to call for an end to the war in Yemen, though the Saudi Arabian regime has not indicated any changes to their ongoing efforts. United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock has warned the Security Council previously that without an end to the violence and significant aid provided, “there is a clear and present danger of an imminent and great big famine engulfing Yemen.”

In May 2018, The United States withdrew unilaterally from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the Islamic Republic of Iran and other international signatories, despite the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) assurances that the Islamic Republic of Iran is abiding with the 2015 deal. In early November, United States President Donald Trump reimposed oil and financial sanctions against the Iranian regime, citing alleged missile and nuclear programs. This action was taken despite opposition from Germany, France, Russia and China as well as assurances from the IAEA that Iran was not undertaking such programs. The Iranian regime has stated it will continue to comply with the 2015 agreement and work with the other signatories, despite the United States abandonment of the deal and imposition of sanctions.

A recording has surfaced of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death; according the the unpublished recording, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shared with Saudi Arabia, the United States, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, he was suffocated by use of a plastic bag. Saudi Arabia has admitted that Khashoggi was was killed by Saudi intelligence agents. Saudi Arabia has arrested 18 people and dismissed five senior government officials as a part of their ongoing investigation into the matter. The United Kingdom’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to meet with both King Salman and Prince Mohammed to request that the regime cooperate more fully with the Turkish investigation in Khashoggi’s death.


Despite assurances from the Nigerian government that Boko Haram is near defeat, the group’s jihadists have increased attacks on Nigerian military targets in the past months, with nine attacks having taken place since July 2018. The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) backed faction of Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for most of these attacks. The conflict with Boko Haram in Nigeria has claimed more than 27,000 lives since 2009, and has displaced over 2 million Nigerians.

Russia and Eastern Europe

In Norway, members of the NATO alliance finished holding their largest war games since the end of the Cold War, Exercise Trident Juncture. It involved more than 50,000 troops from all 29 NATO members, Finland, and Sweden, and simulated an attack on Norway by a powerful aggressor. Russia was accused of meddling with Finnish GPS systems during the exercise, a charge that Russia denies, claiming instead that the malfunctions were due to glitches in the Finnish GPS computers.

Additionally, the United States communicated its intent to unilaterally withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), an arms-control treaty signed between the United States and the former Soviet Union in 1987. The treaty prohibits all land-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges of between 311 and 3,420 miles. Experts on arms control have warned that scrapping the INF treaty may lead to the increased deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe and another arms race, thereby increasing the risk of nuclear war.

Critics of the INF treaty point to the accumulation of intermediate-range nuclear missiles by the People’s Republic of China, which is not party to the treaty, and alleged violations of the treaty by Russia. Supporters counter that it would be better to work within the framework of the treaty to address these issues rather than scrapping it altogether.


Al Jazeera (2018). From rhetoric to reality: The return of US sanctions on Iran. 12 November.

Al Jazeera (2018). ‘I’m suffocating’: Khashogggi’s last words, says Turkish reporter. 11 November.

Al Jazeera (2018). Kabul: Suicide bomber targets protesters demanding security. 12 November.

Al Jazeera (2018). UK calls for end to Yemen war, Khashoggi justice. 11 November.

Channel News Asia (2018). Dozens killed in Afghanistan fighting as sectarian threat grows. 11 November.

Cooper, Helene (2018). ‘Cold War’ Takes New Meaning for U.S. Marines at a NATO Exercise. The New York Times. 31 October.

Daugherty, Bob (2018). In Bipartisan Pleas, Experts Urge Trump to Save Nuclear Treaty With Russia. The New York Times. 8 November.

Gross, Terry (2018). Plagued by War and Famine, Yemen is ‘No Longer a Functioning State,’ Journalist Warns. NPR. 8 November.

Metzler, Kiyoko (2018). UN nuclear watchdog says Iran abiding with 2015 deal limits. Associated Press. 12 November.

Mishra, Manoj Kumar (2018). Afghan turmoil continues without clear signs of peace. Asia Times. 29 October.

News 24 (2018). Nigeria appoints new commander against Boko Haram. 12 November.

Paul, Ruma (2018). Rohingya flee refugee camps in Bangladesh, as Myanmar prepares for first returnees. Reuters. 11 November.


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