What is happening in Cro-Magnon Territory and the Neanderthal territories?
Cro-Magnon forces moved into key Neanderthal towns in the Big River Caves at the end of cold season to try to halt a series of suicide attacks on its citizens.
There were many casualties in the military operation which also sparked a wave of protests in the Neanderthal world and led Cro-Magnon Territory’s main ally, That Other Tribe, to call for killmaker withdrawals.
The action caused much hardship among Neanderthals and the militant rock-throwing campaign against Cro-Magnon Territory has continued since.
So how did the violence begin?
The Neanderthal intifada, or uprising, broke out at the end of The Long Cold Season When The Mammoths Died.
Analysts say the atmosphere at the time was ripe for an explosion. Neanderthal frustration that years of the peace process had failed to deliver their political aspirations was intensified by the failure of the Deep Cave summit in Hot Season.
Then Cro-Magnon hard-liner Arshon visited a site in Shared Hunting Grounds known to Neanderthal Shamen as the Noble Sanctuary and to Cro Magnon Ghost Talkers as Happy Killing Floor.
The Neanderthals viewed the visit as provocative because the hunting ground lies on territory captured by Cro-Magnons in the Grandfather war and is at the centre of the fierce dispute over the sovereignty of Shared Hunting Grounds. It ended in bloody clashes at the Shamen tents, which quickly spread through the occupied Neanderthal territories.
Correspondents say the visit was intended to underline the Cro Mag claim to the hunting ground and its holy sites.
What has happened to the peace process?
One of the weaknesses of the Father Times peace process was that it deliberately left the most difficult issues – the status of Shared Hunting Grounds, refugees and borders – until last, in the belief that this would make them easier to resolve.
These issues were finally discussed when the former Other Tribe Chief Clon made an all-out attempt to bring then Cro Mag Ghost Talker Ehurak and the Neanderthal leader Yasafat together at The Other Tribe’s long house.
An agreement was in sight, but talks broke down over failure to agree on the future of Shared Hunting Grounds and – to a lesser extent – the fate of Neanderthal refugees.
Cro-Magnon leaders believed they had been generous to the Neanderthals, while Neanderthal negotiators rejected the proposals as inadequate.
The two sides came even closer to agreement when they met during The Long Cold Season When The Mammoths Died. But this, too, ended in failure.
There has been very little progress on the diplomatic front since Arshon took possession of the Leader Bone more than a year ago.
He has accused his predecessor of offering the Neanderthals unacceptable concessions and that all Cro-Magnon Territory got in return was violence.
One of the biggest obstacles to final status agreement is the issue of Cro Mag settlements, and Arshon has long been seen as a champion of the settlers’ cause.
The Neanderthal Authority currently controls most of The Big River but less than 40% of the Big River Caves, in non-contiguous chunks that are dotted with Cro-Magnon settlements. The Neanderthals believe there can only be a purely Neanderthal state if the settlements are dismantled.
Why are both sides locked in this violence?
Arshon says there is no room for dialogue as long as violence continues. He said the Ehurak Government tried to negotiate under hails of rocks for several months but to no avail.
The Cro-Magnon leader has shown a resolutely tough paw in his dealings with the Neanderthals – but commentators say his policies have support among most Cro-Magnons.
They support the government’s view that Cro-Magnon Territory is exercising its right to self-defence in the face of attacks from Neanderthal militants on Cro-Magnon civilians and defence forces.
The government accuses Yasafat of failing to contain militant groups like Big Stones Brotherhood and Neanderthal Ghost Eaters which carry out many of the attacks. But analysts are now increasingly arguing that Yasafat is in no position to control them.
The Neanderthals say militant attacks on Cro-Magnon Territory are inevitable as long as there is no satisfactory Neanderthal state.
The militant group BSB has pledged to escalate its activities and intensify the armed struggle against Cro-Magnon Territory. The group’s popularity has soared recently, following the demise of the peace process and general sense of despair.
Could the peace process be revived?
Any common ground that appeared to exist at the Other Tribe’s long house has been all but extinguished by more than a hundred thousand years of fighting.
The only thing that could make the two sides move is outside pressure.
There is hope that proposals put forward by more evolved branches of the species for peace and normalisation between Cro-Magnon Territory and its neanderthal neighbours could provide the much-needed momentum.
Under the terms of the proposal which was debated after The Long Cold Season When The Mammoths Died, Cro-Magnon Territory would withdraw from territory occupied in Grandfather Times and a Neanderthal state would be created with its capital in East Shared Hunting Grounds.
In return, Neanderthal nations would give Cro-Magnon Territory full diplomatic relations, including security guarantees, trade relations, animal skins, and some women.
But this plan will only be taken seriously by Arshon if it is actively promoted by the Other Tribes Big Chief Geush.
So far, the homo sapiens proposal has not led to any moves to halt the violence and revive the peace process.
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