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CrisisWatch Database

Region / country

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663 results found
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Iraq

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged Risk Alert

Continued wave of anti-establishment protests in Baghdad and southern provinces over corruption and systematic inadequacy of service delivery brought country to edge of yet more serious conflict. Top religious authority Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani 7 Aug attempted to de-escalate tensions by denouncing corruption and calling on PM Abadi to undertake reforms to address problems. Parliament 11 Aug approved sweeping reform package that included reducing number of ministries, eliminating multiple deputy PM and VP positions. Kurdistan region also experienced political crisis: regional President Barzani’s term formally ended 19 Aug; Gorran and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), two of region’s largest political parties, challenged Barzani’s wish to serve third term, drafted law that would empower region’s parliament to elect new president. Clashes with Islamic State (IS) and IS attacks continued: at least 67 killed 14 Aug by truck bomb in Baghdad; at least 58 killed, 100 wounded 10 Aug in bomb attacks in Diyala province; five including two generals killed by suicide bomber 27 Aug near Ramadi. U.S. reported senior IS leader Haji Mutazz killed in drone strike 18 Aug. Turkey strikes on alleged PKK bases in Kurdistan Regional Govt territory continued (see Turkey).

Iran

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Country passed first compliance test 15 Aug by submitting information on past nuclear activities to IAEA; IAEA will review and ask any additional questions within one month. Debate in U.S. administration over passage of nuclear deal by Congress continued ahead of Sept vote: two senior Democrats early Aug voiced opposition to deal, vote of ten undecided senators expected to be key. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) early Aug offered support for deal. Iran’s FM Zarif early Aug continued regional tour of Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Lebanon and Syria. Two sentenced 30 Aug to ten years’ prison for spying for U.S. and Israel. Authorities 22 Aug unveiled new solid-fuel surface-to-surface missile. Official news agency 22 Aug reported reconnaissance drone shot down in west near Iraq border. UK 23 Aug reopened embassy in Tehran.

Bahrain

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Interior ministry 13 Aug confirmed arrest of five suspected of involvement in 28 July Sitra bombing, said suspects had links to Iran Revolutionary Guards and Hizbollah. Prominent cleric and former lawmaker Hasan Isa detained 18 Aug following visit to Iran, charged with financing terrorism and involvement in Sitra bombing; opposition al-Wefaq said Isa targeted under laws that criminalise peaceful political activism. Opposition figure Ibrahim Sharif, arrested mid-July, 24 Aug pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to overthrow govt, inciting hatred. Authorities early Aug temporarily suspended independent newspaper al-Wasat for “dissemination of information that affects national unity”. Police officer killed, seven wounded 28 Aug by bomb in Karana village.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Saudi Arabia: [no change] At least a dozen killed 6 August in bomb attack in Abha, near Yemen border; Islamic State (IS) claimed attack. See news article, Washington Post, 6 Aug. 2015: “Deadly suicide blast strikes Saudi security forces at mosque near Yemen”.

Yemen

  |  1 Sep 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Anti-Huthi ground forces moved into southern governorates throughout Aug after capturing Aden late July, took al-Anad airforce base 3 Aug then pushed Huthis from Lahj, Dalia, Ayban and Shebwa. Anti-Huthi coalition airstrikes 18 Aug crippled Hodeida port which serves north of country. Huthis reinforced positions in Sanaa and took back some territory in Taiz during intense clashes. Huthis for first time offered significant concessions at UN mediation 8-9 August, including withdrawal from cities in accordance with UNSCR 2216. Govt rejected negotiations; both sides now preparing for potential battle in capital. Saudi-backed coalition began deployment of ground troops and heavy weapons to Marib governorate, east of capital. Amnesty International 18 August accused both sides of killing civilians, possible war crimes; UN aid official condemned Hodeida attack as violation of international law.

Iraq

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) attacks and suicide bombings continued throughout month including 18 July car bomb in Khan Bani Saad town that killed some 120 and injured at least 130. Shiite militias and central govt 12 July announced beginning of second large-scale military operation to retake Anbar governorate from IS, 27 July launched attack on Ramadi. Fighting around first target, Falluja, quickly reached stalemate: IS reportedly planted booby-traps around city blocking militias from entering and confining Falluja’s residents to city. UN report released mid-month estimated nearly 15,000 civilians killed Jan 2014-April 2015 by conflict in Iraq. Kurdistan Regional Govt (KRG) early month said it was exporting crude oil from Kirkuk fields independently of Baghdad; move violates earlier agreement between KRG PM Barzani and Iraq’s Oil Minister Abdel Abdul Mahdi. KRG placed in difficult position of choosing between solidarity with longstanding economic partner Turkey or Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after Turkey launched strikes against PKK militants in northern Iraq late July (see Turkey).

Iran

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged Resolution Opportunity

Historic agreement between Iran and P5+1 (EU3+3) on Iran’s nuclear program reached 14 July after twelve years of crisis and 22 months of arduous negotiations. Resulting Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) established most rigorous verification and inspection mechanism ever negotiated, rolls back extensive sanctions regime imposed on Iran. U.S. Obama administration 19 July submitted deal to Congress, triggering 60-day review period; Iranian parliament will also scrutinise deal but without deadline or obligation to vote. UNSC 20 July unanimously endorsed agreement, triggering 90-day period to “adoption day” when Iran will begin implementing key nuclear commitments and U.S. and EU will issue waivers and regulations necessary for lifting of sanctions. Iran and IAEA 14 July also reached agreement on roadmap for resolving outstanding issues by 15 December.

Bahrain

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Two policemen killed, six injured in bomb explosion in Shiite village Sitra 28 July, several reportedly arrested amid speculation over “foreign” link to attacks; Iran denied responsibility. Tensions with Iran deepened: authorities 25 July announced ambassador to Iran recalled after repeated “hostile” Iranian statements, said arms smuggling plot by two Bahrainis with reported ties to Iran foiled. EU parliament 9 July passed resolution calling for ban on exports of tear gas and crowd-control equipment to Bahrain, end to rights abuses. Rights campaigner Nabeel Rajab pardoned by King Hamad mid-July after serving three months of six-month sentence for insulting public institutions on Twitter. Sunni Muslim opposition leader Ibrahim Sharif arrested 12 July for incitement to overthrow govt and “hatred of the regime” in 10 July speech; U.S. expressed concern.

Yemen

  |  3 Aug 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Fighting intensified throughout month as hopes for Ramadan ceasefire failed to materialise and Saudi/anti-Huthi coalition launched new military offensive. Huthi/Saleh alliance 14 July suffered first major defeat since start of war in March when Yemeni fighters trained in Saudi Arabia and backed by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes captured Aden international airport. Fighters consolidated control over most of Aden, made some progress in southern governorates including retaking military bases in Shebwa and Lahj, during military push dubbed “Operation Golden Arrow”; coalition forces said will use Aden to launch further military operations. UN-brokered ceasefire announced for 10 July broken almost immediately by coalition airstrikes; Huthis 10 July threatened significant military escalation in response to increased airstrikes. Saudi-led coalition 25 July announced unilateral five-day ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid, immediately broken by both sides. Ceasefire announcement came day after coalition airstrike killed at least 65 civilians in residential compound in Mokha, Human Rights Watch said killings an apparent war crime. UN 2 July raised Yemen to level-three humanitarian crisis; humanitarians continued to warn of coming famine if naval blockade is not eased; World Food Program’s ship berthed in Aden 21 July for first time since conflict began. UN raised civilian death toll to 1,900 as of 28 July, with 202 deaths in previous twelve days.

Iraq

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Iraqi soldiers, militias and Kurdish forces continued to clash with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) throughout month; U.S. coalition strikes against IS continued. IS suicide bombers killed some 40 Iraqi soldiers in attack on police HQ near Ramadi 1 June; attacks in and near Baghdad continued including at least twelve killed in series of bombings in Baghdad commercial areas 27 June. Seventeen killed 15 June in clash between pro-govt forces and IS in Baiji town. U.S. President Obama 10 June approved deployment of additional 450 U.S. troops to advise and train Iraqi army. PM Abadi suggested U.S. lacked real commitment to troop training, 27 June said Iraqi troop withdrawal from Ramadi in May “unauthorised”, 30 June “retired” army chief-of-staff. U.S. Defense Sec Ashley Carter mid-June noted Iraqi soldiers unwilling to fight, Iraqi govt unable to provide over half of the 24,000 soldiers U.S. is proposing to train. U.S. Congress 17 June voted down amendment to National Defense Authorisation Act that would have allowed U.S. to send weapons to Iraqi Kurdish forces without approval of Baghdad central govt. UN late June said over three million displaced by conflict in Iraq since early 2014.

Iran

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Deadline for completion of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear accord extended from 30 June to 7 July: drafting continued throughout June but at slow pace due to loopholes in Lausanne Framework agreed 2 April, domestic sensitivities and continued push for concessions by both sides.

Bahrain

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Leader of opposition al-Wefaq movement Sheikh Ali Salman, arrested Dec 2014, sentenced 16 June to four years’ prison for promoting disobedience, insulting public institutions, disturbing the peace and inciting hatred; acquitted of seeking to overthrow monarchy. 57 Shia citizens jailed, 56 of whom were stripped of their nationality for allegedly planning attacks on police, security institutions and embassy; rights groups condemned trial and sentences. Authorities 4 June said ten members of terrorist cell accused of bomb attacks on police and civilians arrested, 7 June said terrorist plot by Iraqi-trained militants foiled. U.S. 30 June announced resumption of military aid to Bahrain.

Yemen

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

UN-brokered consultations between warring parties in Geneva 15-19 June failed to reach agreement on ceasefire or humanitarian pause. Huthi/Saleh bloc continued to view exiled Yemeni govt as illegitimate and largely irrelevant; govt maintained unrealistic demands for Huthi disarmament and withdrawal from large blocs of territory. Huthi/Saleh coalition continued to advance: captured capital of Jawf province on border with Saudi Arabia 14 June; made gains in Marib province; 6 June fired scud missile into Saudi territory. Saudi military and Yemeni fighters reinforced border position, increased cross-border rocket attacks ahead of Geneva consultations. Hiraak fighters gained upper hand against Huthis in Dalia governorate. Humanitarian situation continued to worsen: UN mid-June said over 80% of population in need of aid, $1.6bn needed to tackle “looming catastrophe”. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) 17 June killed over 30 in series of bombings at Zayid mosques and Huthi HQ in Saana. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader killed 16 June in U.S. drone strike.

Iraq

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) mid-May seized Ramadi, last govt stronghold in Anbar province; Iraqi forces launched counter-attack late May led by Iran-backed Shiite “popular mobilisation” militias, U.S. announced it is “expediting” weapons shipments to Iraq, increased airstrikes against IS. At least seventeen troops reportedly killed by IS suicide attacks in western Anbar province 26-27 May. At least five killed in car-bomb attacks on two Baghdad hotels 28 May, IS claimed responsibility. Dozens of inmates broke out of prison in Al-Khalis 8 May, several guards killed in clashes, IS claimed responsibility.

Iran

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Drafting of final nuclear agreement continued throughout month, advanced despite some backtracking on both sides. U.S. Congress and Senate mid-May passed Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act with large majorities, bill signed into law 22 May by President Obama; Iran agreed to grant UN inspectors “managed access” to military sites. FM Zarif late May said he hoped for final nuclear deal “within a reasonable period of time”, warned against making “excessive demands” on Iran. Trial began 26 May of U.S. journalist arrested July 2014 accused of espionage. Tehran continued to offer support to anti-Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) forces in Iraq and Syria (see Iraq and Syria). Tensions in Persian Gulf continued to escalate: Iranian ships 14 May fired warning shots at Singapore-flagged tanker that allegedly damaged Iranian oil platform; Iran cargo ship reportedly carrying 2,500 tonnes of aid supplies for Yemen diverted to Djibouti 22 May (see Yemen).

Bahrain

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Appeals Court 14 May upheld six-month jail sentence against rights activist Nabeel Rajab, found guilty of tweet insulting defence and interior ministries; former MP Khalid Abdul Aal sentenced 27 May to one year prison for insulting Interior Ministry on Twitter. Interior Ministry 10 May said group suspected of terrorist attacks arrested, explosives stockpile seized in Janusan and Sitra.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Saudi-led air campaign against Huthis in Yemen continued amid ongoing tensions with Iran (see Yemen). Suicide bombing of Shiite mosque near Qatif in East 22 May left 21 dead; Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) claimed responsibility; tens of thousands joined mass funeral 25 May; four killed 29 May in suicide bomb attack on Shiite mosque in Dammam. Authorities late May imposed sanctions on two top Hizbollah commanders already sanctioned by U.S. for alleged involvement in terrorism. King Salman declined to attend U.S.-Gulf Camp David summit mid-May.

Yemen

  |  1 Jun 2015

Deteriorated

Conflict increasingly intractable as it becomes tied to regional Saudi-Iran power struggle. Saudi coalition and Huthi/Saleh bloc feeding cycle of escalating violence: small group of special forces, reportedly Emirati, 4 May landed in Aden raising spectre of ground invasion; in retaliation Huthi-affiliated tribes 5-6 May launched cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia killing several civilians; Saudis responded with intense air raids in Sanaa and Huthi stronghold Saada. Huthi/Saleh bloc gained ground throughout month despite air campaign and blockade, especially in Aden, Taiz and Shebwa. Iran made several attempts to break blockade, including sending ship ostensibly loaded with humanitarian supplies sparking war of words with Saudis; tensions lessened when UN 20 May announced ship would dock for inspection in Djibouti. Five-day ceasefire held 12-16 May; Saudi-led airstrikes resumed 18 May in response to repeated Huthi violations of truce; 27 May killed at least 80 near Saudi border and in Sanaa, deadliest day since strikes began. New UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed working to revive negotiations including proposed consultations 28 May but neither side ready for genuine compromise: Hadi govt said Huthi withdrawal from captured territory precondition for negotiations. Saudis 16 May convened GCC-sponsored conference in Riyadh: Yemeni participants called for joint Arab force to oversee Huthi withdrawal from cities, speedy return of govt in exile, provision of anti-Huthi resistance with weapons and logistical support. UNCHR estimated at least 1,037 civilians killed and 2,453 injured 26 March to 20 May.

Iraq

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) militants early April reportedly retreated from Tikrit, under IS control since June 2014, after three-week siege by Shiite militias operating under “popular mobilisation forces” umbrella. Militias together with Iraqi govt units took over city under cover of U.S. airstrikes. Following victory PM Abadi made first visit to Washington, secured almost $200mn humanitarian assistance support, refrained from explicitly requesting increased U.S. military assistance, discussed Iraq’s budget crisis with World Bank and IMF. Reports emerged mid-April suggesting IS leader al-Baghdadi seriously wounded in airstrikes mid-March. In western Iraq, govt forces early April withdrew from eastern Ramadi, govt’s only remaining foothold in Anbar province, paving way for IS advance; 90,000 displaced. Police official 27 April said some 30 police killed mid-April in clashes between local security forces and IS in Ramadi. IS 16 April seized parts of Iraq’s biggest oil refinery in Bajii city. Amid rise in intra-Kurdish rivalries and external interference in Kurdish affairs, Kurdistan Democratic Party working to secure allegiance of Ninewa province officials, minorities and tribes; KDP security forces 5 April arrested Yazidi leader Haider Shasho, who allied with KDP rival People’s Protection Units (YPG). IS claimed 18 April bombing outside U.S. consulate in Erbil; five arrested.

Iran

  |  30 Apr 2015

Improved

Iran and P5+1 (EU3+3) 2 April announced initial agreement on key parameters of “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” on Iran’s nuclear enrichment. Iran and IAEA 15 April met to resume cooperation. Parties reconvened 22-25 April to discuss technical details and implementation plan, talks continued 27 April on sidelines of Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference. If implemented, Plan of Action parameters will reduce enrichment capacity by two thirds, reduce stockpile of enriched material by 97% for ten years, lengthening breakout time from two-three months to twelve months. Will also limit research and development to laboratory scale for ten to fifteen years, modify Arak heavy-water reactor to eliminate weapons-usable plutonium, establish safeguards and rigorous inspections and provide phased sanctions relief. Suspicions in Tehran about U.S. President Obama’s ability to deliver on final agreement exacerbated by U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s 14 April approval of bill requiring Obama to submit any deal for Congress vote. Charges against U.S. journalist Jason Rezaian, detained July 2014, made public 20 April: Rezaian charged with espionage, “propaganda against the establishment” and “collaborating with hostile govts”. Marshall Islands ship seized 28 April, reportedly in connection with court case involving unresolved cargo claim.

Bahrain

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Renewed Shiite protests ahead of 19 April Formula 1 race: hundreds marched in Shiite village Duraz. Court 5 April adjourned case of rights activist Nabeel Rajab, appealing six-month jail sentence for insulting govt, after he was arrested again 2 April following comments on treatment of inmates at Jaw prison; Rajab charged 26 April with “disseminating false news in time of war” and “openly discrediting a statutory authority”. Interior Ministry 27 April announced 28 suspected terrorists arrested.

Saudi Arabia

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Regime 21 April declared end to Yemen airstrikes (see Yemen); said new phase to begin focused on rebuilding and preventing Huthi operational movements. Interior Ministry 28 April said 93 suspected Islamic State operatives arrested. King Salman 29 April appointed Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as Crown Prince and Defence Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman as deputy crown prince.

Yemen

  |  30 Apr 2015

Deteriorated

Saudi Arabia 21 April announced end to five-week air campaign against Huthis and security forces aligned with former President Saleh. Both Saudi and Huthi actions suggest preparing for long fight: Huthi leader, Abdulmalik al-Huthi 19 April refused to surrender; Saudi-led air attacks ongoing, intensifying in southern and western provinces, bombed Sanaa airport late-month. Naval and air blockade to stop Huthis from resupplying still in place, preventing food, medical supplies and other products entering country; Huthis preventing aid convoys from entering Aden. ICRC said humanitarian situation catastrophic; UNOCHA estimated over 300,000 displaced. UNSC 14 April imposed arms embargo on Huthis and allied military units. Iranian-dispatched ships reportedly bound for Yemen turned around 23 April; U.S. dispatched two additional warships to Yemeni waters, reportedly to deter arms shipments to Huthis. UNSG Ban 25 April appointed Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as Yemen special envoy to replace Jamal Benomar, who left post amid criticisms from Gulf countries. Al-Qaeda 3 April captured govt buildings, freed prisoners and looted central bank in Al-Mukalla, Hadramout.

Iraq

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Iran-backed Shiite militias 2 March launched ambitious operation to retake Tirkrit, central Iraq, from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL): operation involves 20,000-30,000 Shiite fighters directed and armed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard; role of Iraqi state security forces marginal. Militias 11 March entered al-Alam district, SE Tirkrit, progress slowed by IS fighters and IED cordon. U.S. 25 March initiated strikes against IS targets in Tikrit, reportedly to aid Iraqi army forces though in practice helping militia-led operation; PM Abadi 31 March said Tikrit back under govt control. Draft legislation discussed in parliament 3 March proposed merge of Shiite militias into National Guard prompting fears militias will be given cover of regular force without addressing larger issue of their sectarian nature.

Iran

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Nuclear talks ongoing as 31 March deadline for preliminary accord missed, broad agreement reportedly reached but details still under negotiation. Discussions focussed on issues of research and development, and schedule for UNSC sanctions relief. 47 U.S. Republicans attempted to sabotage talks by writing open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei warning any deal could be reversed by next U.S. president. Hardline conservative Mohammed Yazdi 10 March defeated former president and moderate Rafsanjani, to be elected Chairman of the Assembly of Experts, group responsible for choosing next Supreme Leader.

Bahrain

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Trial of opposition al-Wefaq head Sheikh Ali Salman, charged with incitement to overthrow govt, adjourned 25 March to 22 April. Protests against his detention and intensifying regime repression continued. Bahrain late month joined Saudi Arabia-led operation in Yemen (see Yemen). Public Prosecutor 28 March announced secretary general of political society arrested for spreading “lies and rumours” aimed at undermining Yemen operation. Explosion west of Manama wounded two policemen 19 March. Eleven jailed for fifteen years 22 March for Oct attack on police station in Shiite village Aalay, near Manama.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Govt 8 March offered to hold talks on Yemen crisis in Riyadh, 26 March launched airstrikes in Yemen (see Yemen). New King Salman 10 March said he would tackle corruption, create jobs and maintain stability in first major public speech since taking power in Jan.

Yemen

  |  1 Apr 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Violence increased as tensions tipped over into all-out war and UN human rights chief Zeid warned country “on the verge of total collapse”. Saudi Arabia and ten other (mostly Arab, Sunni) countries 26 March launched “operation decisive storm”, countrywide air campaign against Huthis and allied military units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh; goal is to restore President Hadi’s govt, but operation risks pulling Yemen further into Saudi-Iranian regional struggle, augmenting sectarian divides, closing any hope of negotiated political solution. Political crisis continued to deepen as violence overtook UN-brokered negotiations. Fighting broke out in earnest between Hadi and forces associated with Huthis and former President Saleh in Aden 19 March. Huthis 19-20 March bombed presidential residence in Aden, moved northern military units and other forces southwards. Clashes ongoing between Hadi-aligned groups in Aden, backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, and Huthi/Saleh forces. Over 40 refugees killed in air raid on refugee camp in Haradh area near Saudi border 31 March. Al-Qaeda 18 March assassinated Abulkarim al-Khaywani, journalist and liberal voice within Huthi movement; 20 March captured security and local govt buildings in southern Lahj governorate. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) claimed responsability for 20 March suicide bombings on Zaydi mosques in Sanaa that killed over 130.

Iraq

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Criticism of PM Abadi’s inability to impose govt authority intensified after killing of prominent Sunni tribal leader Sheikh Qassem al-Janabi, his nephew and six guards at Baghdad checkpoint manned by Shiite militiamen 13 Feb; some 75 lawmakers responded by boycotting parliament, blamed cabinet and defence ministry for ignoring criminal activities of Shiite militias. Govt early Feb approved draft law establishing National Guard commanded by locals, particularly Sunnis, at governorate level; Sunni ministers rejected draft, demanded clarity regarding chain of command and amendment of de-Baathification legislation excluding former security and military figures. Abadi early month declared end to decade-long night-time curfew in Baghdad and withdrawal of army and federal police from some areas handed over to “local forces”, causing fear of further increase in militia activity. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) attacks continued in Anbar province: IS mid-month seized Al-Baghdadi town north west of Ramadi, reportedly burned 45 residents to death; attacked nearby Ain al-Asad airbase hosting U.S. military advisors. Deadly bombings continued in Baghdad: at least 34 killed 7 Feb, mostly in majority Shia area; another 37 killed 24 Feb. Mass graves containing scores of Yazidis killed by IS discovered in north mid-month.

Iran

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Progress in nuclear talks between Iran and U.S. during bilateral negotiations in Munich 6-8 Feb: Iran appeared to accept P5+1 (also known as EU3+3) formula for curtailing enrichment capacity, lengthening nominal nuclear weapons “breakout time” to one year; major disagreements remained including on schedule for sanctions relief, duration of possible agreement. Talks continued in Geneva 20-23 Feb; next round in Montreux from 2 March. Supreme Leader Khamenei 8 Feb voiced unusually strong support for negotiations: referred to Iranian concessions under Nov 2013 interim agreement as “logical”, equated them with Iran’s 1988 acceptance of UNSC resolution ending Iran-Iraq war; expressed opposition to any deal contrary to “nation’s interests”. Some U.S. Senate Democrats maintained President Obama has until end of March to reach political understanding with Iran before additional sanctions will be pursued; Obama 9 Feb said further extension of talks unlikely unless Iran agrees to P5+1’s “bottom line”. Several U.S. lawmakers vowed not to attend Israeli PM Netanyahu’s scheduled 3 March address on Iran to joint session of Congress, blamed lack of Republican consultation with White House on inviting Netanyahu. Iran 2 Feb placed domestically made satellite into orbit; critics alleged move unofficial attempt to launch inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) despite Iran being years away from ICBM technology; satellite imagery revealed launch site lacked necessary components for ICBM launch.

Bahrain

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Continued clashes between protesters and police around 14 Feb anniversary of 2011 uprising; main opposition al-Wefaq said scores injured. Authorities 17 Feb announced criminal investigation into al-Wefaq, claimed group undermining national security.

Yemen

  |  2 Mar 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Political crisis deepened as Huthis moved to fill void left by late Jan resignation of President Hadi and govt: Huthi leaders 6 Feb announced establishment of revolutionary council, high security committee and parliamentary body charged with electing presidential council. Move triggered immediate international and domestic condemnation: several foreign embassies suspended operations and evacuated diplomats including U.S., EU, UK, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and UAE; all political parties rejected declaration, anti-Huthi protests grew in Sanaa and central provinces. UNSC 15 Feb called on Huthis to relinquish control of state institutions, release president and ministers from house arrest; GCC countries lobbying for diplomatic isolation argued UNSC resolution should have allowed for enforcement under UN Charter’s Chapter Seven. UN 20 Feb brokered agreement on creating transitional council; President Hadi next day escaped Sanaa for southern city of Aden: issued statement reasserting his authority as president, accusing Huthis of coup d’état and calling on body created to oversee implementation of national dialogue outcomes to meet in Aden or Taiz; fears move could further accelerate conflict, territorial disintegration. Groups in several southern and western governorates declared autonomy from Sanaa, many actively prepared to resist Huthis; battle lines increasingly taking sectarian overtones, pitting Shafai (Sunni) areas against Huthis. Popular committees in Aden, funded by Hadi but with unclear loyalties, 16 Feb clashed with govt Special Security Forces allegedly affiliated with Huthis and/or former President Saleh: seized key areas including city’s port, intelligence HQ and other state buildings. Huthis advanced against al-Qaeda (AQAP) in Baydah province, dozens reported killed 14 Feb; AQAP 12 Feb captured military base in Shebwa province. U.S. drone strikes continued including four killed in Baydah 2 Feb.

Saudi Arabia

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Three border guards killed by suspected jihadi militants, including suicide bomber, along Iraqi border 5 Jan; authorities 9 Jan arrested seven suspected accomplices including four Syrians. King Abdullah died 23 Jan, crown prince Salman named new king.

Iraq

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) militants continued in NW amid increasing friction between Kurdish factions: attempts by U.S.-supported Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to improve relations with local Yezidis following mid-Dec seizure of Sinjar challenged by rival Kurdish factions including Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK); mid-Jan declaration of self-administration in Sinjar, backed by PKK, denounced by Kurdistan Regional Government officials as PKK plot to separate Iraqi Kurds from Yezidis. Dozens of Kurds, scores of IS militants reported killed near Gwer SW of Erbil early Jan; dozens killed in IS attack on Kirkuk 30 Jan. Shiite militiamen accused of killing over 70 Sunni civilians in eastern Diyala 26 Jan. Fighting continued in Anbar province including scores of govt forces, IS militants reported killed in al-Jubba and near Haditha town 6 Jan. Bombings, shootings continued in Baghdad including at least 21 killed 29 Jan; suicide bomber 12 Jan killed twelve Shiite militiamen and Iraqi soldiers near Tikrit.

Iran

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1 (also known as EU3+3) continued mid-month in Geneva; no progress despite hours of talks between U.S. Sec State Kerry and Iranian FM Zarif, two days of bilateral U.S.-Iran deputy-level talks, one day of discussions with full P5+1. Talks continued late month including U.S.-Iran talks in Zurich 22-23 Jan, Iran-EU3 (France, Germany and UK) talks in Istanbul 29 Jan. U.S. Congress moved forward with bipartisan sanctions legislation; Democrats supporting legislation promised no vote before 24 March deadline for reaching Iran-P5+1 framework agreement after President Obama warned new sanctions could undermine negotiations, threatened veto. More than 200 Iranian parliamentarians initiated draft legislation mandating govt to increase enrichment level to 60% if Congress imposes new sanctions. President Rouhani rebuffed by Supreme Leader Khamenei after suggesting national referendum could be held on nuclear deal: Khamenei 7 Jan said Iran should maintain confrontational posture in negotiations, revealing possible cracks in fragile consensus on need to resolve crisis. Iranian officials early Jan accused Saudi Arabia of intentionally keeping oil prices low to hurt Iranian economy, force additional concessions in nuclear talks. Iranian military officials early Jan said army delimited buffer zone 40km inside Iraq to deter potential cross-border jihadi incursions. Iranian Revolutionary Guard General killed in Israeli strike targeting Hizbollah convoy in Golan Heights 18 Jan (see Lebanon).

Bahrain

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Authorities 19 Jan charged head of main opposition al-Wefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman, with incitement to overthrow govt, trial began 28 Jan; several clashes between protesters and police early Jan following Salman’s detention late Dec. Senior al-Wefaq leader Jameel Kadhim sentenced to six months’ jail 13 Jan for allegedly “disrupting” Nov elections. Prominent activist Nabeel Rajab handed six-month jail sentence 20 Jan for allegedly insulting govt institutions.

Yemen

  |  2 Feb 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Govt and President Hadi 22 Jan resigned, throwing political process established through Sept “Peace and National Partnership Agreement” (PNPA) into question and raising prospect of territorial fragmentation, widespread violence. Move followed push by northern Huthis to take complete control of Sanaa 19-20 Jan: surrounded presidential palace, captured additional military positions and state institutions, put Hadi under virtual house arrest. Presidential resignation awaiting approval by parliament; observers fear Huthis could appoint presidential or military committee without adequate buy-in from other groups, causing violent backlash from Shafai (Sunni) areas and southern separatists. Several anti-Huthi demonstrations in Sanaa late month, including by thousands of protesters 24 Jan. Huthi push triggered by dispute with Hadi over draft constitution, especially proposed federal structure; Huthi fighters 17 Jan kidnapped presidential advisor allegedly seeking to force through six-region federalism without Huthi consent. Insurgent leader Abdul-Malik al-Huthi 20 Jan accused Hadi of obstructing PNPA, indicated willingness to remove president. Hadi next day accepted all Huthi demands in return for advisor’s release, Huthi withdrawal from certain military positions; agreement immediately collapsed as Huthis dictated terms of implementation under threat of military force. Security council of Aden governorate 22 Jan announced it would no longer take orders from Sanaa following Hadi’s resignation. Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for 7 Jan attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdoin Paris, same day exploded car bomb outside Sanaa police academy killing over 40; observers warned group gaining strength amid Huthi expansion. Six reported killed in U.S. drone strikes late Jan.

Saudi Arabia

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Militants 14 Dec shot dead policeman near majority Shia eastern town of Awamiya; four suspects, one bystander reported killed in police raid 20 Dec. Supporters of jihadi group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) early Dec claimed late Nov non-fatal shooting of Danish citizen in Riyadh; three suspects arrested 11 Dec.

Iraq

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Battle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) continued in central, northern Iraq: IS advanced in Anbar province including capturing town of al-Wafa 13 Dec; Kurdish forces claimed advances in north including breaking siege of Sinjar mountain freeing hundreds of trapped Yazidis 18 Dec. U.S. same day claimed three senior IS leaders killed in coalition airstrikes over past month, including deputy to group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Doubts persisted about U.S. approach to IS despite Pentagon late Nov revealing plans to spend $24.1mn on training and arming Sunni tribes with light weapons; observers pointed to need for combination with increased Sunni political participation, reinstatement of state services for Sunnis in IS-controlled areas. PM Abadi 1 Dec visited Brussels, requested further NATO training assistance; former PM Maliki next day met Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon, underscoring Iraq’s continued alignment with Iran, Shiite allies. IS executions of anti-IS Sunni tribesmen continued, including sixteen members of Albu Nimr tribe reported killed 6 Dec in Anbar. Deadly bombings continued in and around Baghdad including at least 38 anti-IS Sunni fighters reported killed by suicide bomber 24 Dec. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Baghdad central govt 2 Dec reached compromise in oil dispute despite continued disagreement on hydrocarbons law: KRG to hand over 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) to be sold by Baghdad, 300,000 bpd to flow through pipeline connecting KRG to Turkey; govt to resume outstanding payment of 17% of national budget to KRG.

Iran

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1 (also known as EU3+3) resumed in Geneva mid-month: bilateral Iran-U.S. talks held 15-16 Dec, multilateral Iran-P5+1 talks 17 Dec; progress unclear, Iranian negotiators called meetings “very useful”. Confidential UN report 9 Dec accused Iran of making illicit purchases for Arak heavy water reactor in violation of UN sanctions, U.S. said move not in violation of Joint Plan of Action (JPA) interim agreement with P5+1. UN report prompted further criticism of Iran by U.S. Congress members following Nov news reports claiming Iran violated JPA – with moves which, it was later clarified, did not violate JPA, due to ambiguity in agreement. U.S. Sec State Kerry early month called reported Iranian airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) in Iraq “positive”; Iranian officials denied reports. Signs of govt effort to find regional solution to Syrian crisis: FM Zarif 9 Dec held trilateral meeting with Syrian, Iraqi counterparts in Tehran, followed by visits of Syrian PM Halqi, speaker of Iraqi council of representatives Salim al-Jabouri and Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu.

Bahrain

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Two killed, including policeman, in separate bomb attacks south east of Manama 8-9 Dec, another three police injured 19 Dec; govt blamed “terrorists”. Opposition al-Wefaq 26 Dec held general congress, re-elected leader Sheikh Ali Salman; authorities 28 Dec detained Salman on incitement charges, prompting clashes between supporters and police. Hundreds 6 Dec protested in Sitra against regime agreement to open permanent UK naval base; demonstrators dispersed by police using tear gas. Activists Maryam and Zainab al-Khawaja handed prison sentences early Dec, former in absentia for assaulting police, latter for insulting king; court 29 Dec sentenced two to death over Feb 2014 killing of policeman.

Yemen

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Northern Huthis continued expansion, directly challenging President Hadi and authority of new govt, while further galvanising southern calls for independence. Huthis continued push to consolidate power in north: leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi 15 Dec called President Hadi “umbrella for corruption”, demanded Huthis be allowed to oversee state finances. Huthi supporters subsequently tightened control of Sanaa, prevented newly appointed chief of staff from entering defence ministry; 16 Dec dismissed editor of main state news outlet; 17 Dec stormed Central Bank, Civil Status and Registration building and nationally owned Safer oil company. PM Bahah same day threatened to resign along with rest of govt. Parliament 18 Dec passed vote of confidence in favour of govt. Huthis mid-month seized northern city Arhab, stronghold of Sunni Islamist party Islah, after intense clashes; tightened control over strategic Red Sea port of Hodeidah, including dismissing governor and port facility director. Clashes between Huthis and al-Qaeda (AQAP) militants continued in Baydah province’s Radaa city; dozens killed in car bombings targeting Huthis 16 Dec, including fifteen schoolgirls. Suicide bomber 31 Dec killed dozens at Huthi-organised religious celebration in Ibb city. Independence protests continued in south; army 15 Dec killed separatist leader in Aden city. American and South African hostage held by AQAP killed along with at least eleven others during U.S. rescue attempt 6 Dec in Shebwa province; AQAP blamed deaths on U.S., launched attack on air force base outside Aden known for support of U.S. drone operations. Saudi Arabia continued withholding aid due to Huthi expansion, raising fears of impending govt financial collapse.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Suspected militants 3 Nov killed at least eight in attack on Shiite gathering in al-Ahsa governorate; two suspects, two police killed north of Riyadh 4 Nov. Interior ministry 24 Nov claimed assailants linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL).

Iraq

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) militants kept advancing in predominantly Sunni Anbar province, continued large-scale killings of members of anti-IS Sunni tribes: at least 50 members of al-Nimr tribe reported killed 2 Nov; at least 25 members of Albu Fahd tribe reported killed 22 Nov. Iran, U.S. competed to provide assistance, increase influence in Anbar province: U.S. President Obama early Nov authorised sending 1,500 additional U.S. ground troops to embed with Iraqi army despite increasing entanglement of army with Shiite militias. Shiite militias offered support to outgunned Sunni tribal leaders, settled in Anbar’s Ain al-Assad military base; fears move could exacerbate sectarian tensions, increase Sunni support for IS. PM Abadi mid-Nov introduced plans to reform security sector, reportedly fired 26 unnamed military commanders. Month saw some improvement in relations between central govt and Kurdistan Regional Govt (KRG): oil minister Adil Abdul Mahdi and KRG PM Nechirwan Barzani 13 Nov took steps toward resolving disputed issues, including unauthorised KRG oil exports, outstanding payments of KRG’s share of country’s revenues; agreed KRG will export 150,000 barrels per day through govt-controlled infrastructure, receive $500mn as first instalment from Baghdad. Deadly bombings in and around Baghdad continued including at least nineteen reported killed 14 Nov. At least six killed in suicide car bombing in KRG capital Erbil 19 Nov.

Iran

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Joint Plan of Action interim nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 extended until 30 June 2015 after parties failed to reach comprehensive agreement by 24 Nov deadline during talks in Vienna. Talks set to resume in Dec, diplomats hoping to reach political agreement by 1 March, followed by fully-fledged agreement and implementation plan before 1 July. Vienna talks followed trilateral Iran-U.S.-EU meeting 9-10 Nov in Oman. Republican victory in early Nov U.S. mid-term elections seen as complicating future negotiations: Republican Senator Bob Corker prepared new legislation making deal subject to congressional review; co-sponsor of bill, Senator Lindsey Graham, 8 Nov threatened to “kill” any deal not satisfying maximalist criteria. IAEA early Nov reported Iran complying with commitments under Joint Plan of Action interim agreement but slowed cooperation on IAEA probe into past nuclear activities. Iran, Russia 11 Nov signed agreement on Russian construction of two new nuclear reactor units, potential for six further units; move seen as potentially easing Iranian demands for domestic uranium enrichment as nuclear fuel provided by Russia.

Bahrain

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

22 Nov parliamentary elections boycotted by opposition. Authorities claimed 51.5% turnout; main opposition al-Wefaq estimated turnout around 30%. Run-off vote held 29 Nov. Govt banned protest rallies scheduled for 21 Nov, hundreds of protesters reportedly clashed with police. Authorities mid-month arrested more than a dozen activists for allegedly calling on voters to turn elections into referendum on regime legitimacy. Justice ministry early month dropped suspensions case against opposition group Waad. Prominent activists Nabeel Rajab, Zainab al-Khawaja released from jail early/mid-month, awaiting trial.

Yemen

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Clashes between Huthis and al-Qaeda (AQAP)-allied tribesmen continued in central Baydah province: hundreds, possibly thousands, reported killed. Huthis continued advancing, 19 Nov seized AQAP stronghold Radaa city, pushed toward predominantly Sunni Marib governorate containing significant part of country’s oil reserves. Marib tribesmen warned against Huthi advances, pledged to destroy oil and electricity infrastructure if Huthis sought to occupy facilities, causing fears of more clashes, economic damage and growing sectarian tensions. Southern pro-independence demonstrations continued; protesters maintained 30 Nov deadline for all northern govt personnel to leave south. UNSC 7 Nov issued sanctions against former president Saleh and two Huthi commanders; announcement galvanised opposition against govt and president Hadi from Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party; GPC announced opposition to new cabinet sworn in by Hadi 9 Nov, removed Hadi from party leadership. Economic crisis deepened following Saudi Arabia’s reported halt of direct financial assistance to govt in response to Sept Huthi takeover of Sanaa; fears declining reserves could render govt unable to cover salaries, imports in coming months. At least seven reported killed in U.S. drone strike 12 Nov in southern Shabwa province.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr was sentenced to death by Saudi government on the 15 of October on protest-related charges; two other Shiite protesters were also sentenced to death on the 21 of October.

Iraq

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL) militants advanced in western province Anbar including around provincial capital Ramadi, mid-month seized town of Heet displacing up to 180,000 people according to UN. Provincial officials appealed for urgent military assistance, warned of potential fall of province; hundreds reported killed, including more than 200 anti-IS Sunni tribesmen executed late Oct. U.S.-led aerial campaign against IS continued: Kurdish forces reportedly gained ground against IS in north under cover of airstrikes, including seizing town of Zumar 25 Oct; govt forces, Shiite militias same day seized town of Jurf al-Sakhar near Baghdad, hundreds of casualties reported. Month saw increasing criticism of new PM Haider al-Abadi’s policies: Abadi early Oct established National Defence Guard, tasked with fighting IS using locally stationed Sunni recruits, adding another layer to malfunctioning security apparatus; move opposed by political factions advocating reliance on Shiite militias. Abadi’s efforts to rebuild army criticised as insufficient following late Sept disbandment of office of Commander in Chief of Armed Forces, dominated by high-ranking loyalists of former PM Maliki; critics warned firing Maliki-loyalists insufficient, new meritocratic appointment-mechanism required. Abadi 18 Oct appointed State of Law coalition MP Salem al-Ghabban as interior minister, Sunni MP from Mosul Khaled al-Obeidi as defence minister, signalling U.S.-Iran compromise. Hundreds reported killed in suicide bombings, other deadly attacks targeting mainly Shiite neighbourhoods in and around Baghdad throughout month.

Iran

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Nuclear talks between Iran and P5+1 continued in Vienna 15-17 Oct, including trilateral meeting between U.S. Sec State Kerry, Iranian FM Zarif and EU HR/VP Ashton; little progress reported despite impending 24 Nov deadline for reaching comprehensive agreement. IAEA and Iran 7-8 Oct held technical meetings in Tehran; IAEA suggested little progress made, Iran refused to issue visa for U.S. member of IAEA team. Two workers killed in 5 Oct explosion at Parchin military complex; site suspected of housing military nuclear research, raising suspicions of covert action. Several deadly incidents reported in Sistan and Balochistan province including three police, one border guard killed by suspected Sunni militants in 9 Oct bomb blast near eastern city of Saravan; two border guards reported killed in shootout along Pakistani border 16 Oct.

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