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CrisisWatch Database

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621 results found
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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.

Bahrain

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Several opposition groups, including main opposition al-Wefaq, 11 Oct announced boycott of Nov parliamentary elections. Court 28 Oct suspended al-Wefaq’s activities for three months; authorities said implementation awaiting completion of group’s general conference where alleged violations could be addressed; al-Wefaq spokesman said conference to be held within two months. Crackdown on anti-govt activists continued, prominent activist Nabeel Rajab arrested 1 Oct for allegedly insulting state institutions.

Yemen

  |  1 Nov 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Huthi fighters continued to advance following mid-Sept seizure of Sanaa, bringing country’s political transition to brink of collapse despite nominal political process established through late Sept UN-brokered peace and power-sharing agreement. Huthis consolidated power in north, took control of large parts of Red Sea Coast including strategic port of Hodeidah 14 Oct; met with little resistance, at times facilitation, from govt and local population. Huthi expansion into central provinces met with resistance from supporters of Sunni Islamist party Islah, Ansar al-Sharia affiliates and al-Qaeda (AQAP); hundreds reported killed including over 250 in Baydah province. AQAP 9 Oct killed at least 47 in suicide attack targeting Huthi gathering in Sanaa. Huthis continued working with military and police to secure Sanaa, raided homes and offices of political enemies; supporters acted as shadow govt overseeing decisions of cabinet ministers. President Hadi 26 Oct criticized Huthi expansion, called for withdrawal from newly acquired territories including Sanaa. Hadi 13 Oct appointed broadly accepted candidate for PM, country’s UN representative Khalid Bahah, following criticism of previous nominee by Huthis and General People’s Congress; new cabinet yet to be formed. Huthis 31 Oct held tribal gathering in Sanaa, gave Hadi 10-day deadline to form govt. Southern separatists renewed call for independence, tens of thousands demonstrated in Aden and Mukullah 14 Oct; movement’s representatives gave govt until 30 Nov to remove all employees and security forces from south, demanded international oil companies halt exports until revenues redirected to new southern state.

Yemen

  |  1 Oct 2014

Deteriorated

Weeks of Huthi-led anti-govt protests in Sanaa degenerated into several days of fighting mid-month between Huthis and rival forces loyal to General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and Sunni Islamist party Islah; over 200 killed, Huthis captured Mohsen-affiliated military camp, al-Iman University and nearby state TV station. Large parts of security forces sided with Huthis, allowing group to control govt buildings and security in city. New peace deal and power sharing agreement signed 21 Sept calling for implementation of national dialogue outcomes including govt inclusive of all groups, anti-corruption measures, timeline for disarmament of non-state actors; accord seen as favouring Huthis to detriment of other stakeholders, particularly Islah. Peace deal called for Huthis to withdraw from capital, replacement of govt; President Hadi has not yet appointed new premier. Prospects for Huthi withdrawal uncertain despite peace deal ending major combat in Sanaa: Huthis surrounded and entered homes of political enemies following agreement, 27 Sept attacked home of national security chief Ali al-Ahmadi. Widespread fears of retaliatory attacks against Huthis and govt, particularly from al-Qaeda (AQ); at least 20 reported killed in separate AQ attacks targeting Huthis 28 Sept.

Iraq

  |  1 Oct 2014

Deteriorated

Month saw strong Western reactions to Aug and Sept beheadings of U.S. journalists and British aid worker by Islamic State militants (IS; formerly ISIL): White House spokesperson said U.S. at “war” with IS, President Obama 24 Sept vowed to dismantle IS “network of death”. U.S.-led operation continued to rely on airstrikes, France and UK mid- to late month launched first strikes targeting IS in north; IS spokesman urged killing of citizens of coalition countries. Observers expressed concern regional partners continue to pursue policies partly responsible for IS’s initial rise including: Iran channelling money and weapons to sectarian Shiite militias in central Iraq; support for Kurdish Regional Govt (KRG) from U.S., France, UK, and Iran bypassing Baghdad at cost of advancing KRG’s ultimate goal of independence. Majority of incoming PM Abadi’s govt approved by parliament 8 Sept; proposed candidates for crucial posts of interior and defence minister rejected mid-month. Violence continued in Anbar province: over 30 militants reported killed 10 Sept in U.S. airstrike near Haditha dam; over 100 soldiers reported killed or missing after IS attack on army camp 21 Sept. Deadly attacks, suicide bombings continued in Baghdad including at least 30 killed 10 Sept, 35 killed 30 Sept.

Bahrain

  |  1 Oct 2014

Unchanged

Several activists reported arrested throughout month including well-known activist Maryam al-Khawaja, later released awaiting trial. Police early month dispersed anti-govt protesters near Manama using tear gas.

Iran

  |  1 Oct 2014

Unchanged

Nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1 resumed 18-26 Sept in New York following bilateral Iran-U.S. talks in Geneva 4-5 Sept and Iran-EU3 (EU, UK, France and Germany) talks in Vienna 11 Sept; ministerial level talks on sidelines of UNGA seen as possible “make or break” moment determining chances of success before 24 Nov negotiating deadline. IAEA early month indicated technical talks slowed in Aug, parallel to slow-down in diplomatic engagement: 5 Sept released report suggesting Iran failed to provide sufficient information on “possible military dimensions” of past nuclear research; Iran reaffirmed commitment to meeting obligations. Tensions continued ahead of UNGA meetings including over late-Aug U.S. imposition of new sanctions on several Iranian organisations; Iran argued move violated Nov Joint Plan of Action, contradicted spirit of current negotiations. Despite signs of possible readjustment of regional policy, including Iranian silence on U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and FM-level meeting with Saudi Arabia 21 Sept, Supreme Leader Khamenei indicated change limited and tactical; 15 Sept said refused U.S. requests for cooperation in Iraq. 

Yemen

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Month saw mass Huthi-organised protests in Sanaa against govt's late July lifting of fuel subsidies, including rallies of tens of thousands starting 18 Aug demanding new govt, lower fuel prices; reports armed Huthi supporters gathered around Sanaa. Govt 23 Aug offered resignation within month and formation of economic committee to evaluate subsidies; Huthi leaders rejected offer, reemphasised demands including strengthening authority of body charged with overseeing national dialogue implementation, greater inclusion of Huthis in state institutions. President Hadi late month supported counter rallies largely attended by Sunni Islamist Islah party; hundreds of thousands reportedly rallied across country 29 Aug. Protests underscored growing political polarisation between pro-and anti-Huthi factions: some framed protests as real revolution, others as Iranian-inspired religious coup. Violence continued between Huthis and various adversaries in far north including in Jawf; at least 2 ceasefires collapsed during month. Scores reported killed in clashes between govt forces and al-Qaeda (AQAP) affiliates in southern Hadramout province; militants 8 Aug provoked widespread public anger by killing 14 unarmed soldiers in retaliation for govt strikes. AQAP leadership mid-month praised recent gains by jihadi group Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL or ISIS) in Iraq without pledging allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Iraq

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated

U.S. President Barack Obama 7 Aug announced renewed U.S. military action after Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL or ISIS) fighters took control of northern Yazidi town Sinjar: scores of Yazidis reported killed, unknown number taken hostage; up to 200,000 fled, thousands trapped in Sinjar mountain range besieged by IS. Obama identified goals of U.S. airstrikes as breaking siege to prevent “genocide" and protecting U.S. personnel and assets “anywhere in Iraq”, emphasising need to stop IS from advancing closer toward Erbil; officials later expanded objectives to include protection of critical infrastructure, including Mosul dam captured by IS early month. Subsequent U.S. airstrikes near Erbil, Sinjar and Mosul dam mid-month helped Kurdish forces recapture dam with help from elite army units, break Sinjar siege: thousands of Yazidis escaped into Syria aided by PKK-linked Syrian Kurdish fighters; reports later emerged hundreds remained stranded. Army, Kurdish forces and Shiite militias supported by U.S. air strikes 31 Aug reportedly broke IS siege of northern Shiite Turkmen city Amerli. U.S. delivered arms to Kurds, indicated increased support to army contingent upon formation of new broad-based govt. PM Maliki 14 Aug stepped down after Iran, U.S., Saudi Arabia and about half of Maliki’s State of Law coalition joined leading Shiite rivals in supporting fellow Dawa party member Haider al-Abadi for PM. FM Zebari, dismissed by Mailiki mid-July, 20 Aug rejoined govt along with other Kurdish ministers. Numerous other deadly incidents across country: at least 60 reported killed in army air strikes targeting IS militants in Mosul 6 Aug, 47 killed in car bombing in Baghdad Shiite neighbourhood; govt forces 19 Aug launched another failed attempt to retake Tikrit; Shiite militiamen 22 Aug shot dead at least 68 Sunni worshipers in Diyala province; at least 35 killed next day in Baghdad, Kirkuk bombings, including in suicide attack on Baghdad intelligence HQ.

Iran

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

Near-hiatus in nuclear talks as European members of P5+1 observed EU summer vacation; Iran and U.S. tried to keep momentum, 7 Aug met bilaterally in Geneva. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Yukiya Amano 17 Aug visited Tehran to discuss next steps in resolving past and present issues. Uranium conversion plant required for fulfilling obligations under Nov 2013 interim agreement inaugurated 23 Aug. President Rouhani launched attack on critics of nuclear diplomacy following efforts by rivals to derail diplomacy, including by detaining Washington Post’s correspondent in Tehran late July; hardliners criticised Rouhani’s “inappropriate” tone, intolerance to criticism. Hardliners further encouraged by Supreme Leader Khamenei’s 13 Aug speech reiterating pessimism about prospects of nuclear agreement; hardline-dominated parliament 20 Aug dismissed Rouhani’s science minister. Month saw Iran abandon long-time Iraqi ally PM Maliki (see Iraq): Khamenei 13 Aug publicly backed new Iraqi PM designate Haider al-Abadi; FM Zarif 24 Aug met Abadi in Baghdad.

Iraq

  |  1 Aug 2014

Deteriorated

Army and political leadership made no tangible progress in responding to June’s rebel gains in NW led by jihadi group formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL; alternatively ISIS or Daesh), renamed Islamic State (IS) following late June announcement of caliphate. Poorly-planned 15 July army assault to recapture Tikrit ended in retreat to city’s edge. IS moved to eliminate Sunni rivals in areas under its control: reports of executions, house bombings, shelling, detentions and forced displacement; also reports of destruction of shrines, mosques and other religious sites. Group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made first ever public appearance delivering sermon in Mosul early July. Announcement of caliphate met with tentative criticism from non-jihadi Sunni forces supporting rebellion, most avoided direct confrontation with IS; reports of some fighting between IS and other insurgents, tribes mid-month in towns north of Baghdad. Several hundred leaders of broad array of Sunni insurgent groups reportedly met in Jordan 16 July, vowed to keep fighting to topple govt. PM Maliki continued to refuse calls to step down following April’s parliamentary elections; parliamentarians 15 July elected Sunni Islamist Salim al-Jabouri Speaker of Parliament, 24 July elected Kurdish MP Fouad Masoum President. Unprecedented tension between Maliki and Kurdistan Regional Govt (KRG) following mid-June Kurdish seizure of northern city Kirkuk: Kurdish forces 11 July seized nearby oil fields, KRG President Barzani announced intention to hold referendum on independence within months; Maliki accused KRG of providing safe havens for IS, other “terrorists”. Kurdish cabinet members 10 July boycotted cabinet session; Maliki next day replaced Kurdish FM Zebari with Shiite ally Hussain al-Shahristani. Army shelling of Anbar’s Fallujah continued, 19 reported killed 21-22 July. Deadly bombings continued in Baghdad including at least 33 killed in IS suicide bombing 23 July. Human Rights Watch mid-month said hundreds of prisoners killed by govt forces in revenge for IS killings.

Bahrain

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Govt 7 July asked visiting U.S. Assistant Sec State Tom Malinowski to leave country prematurely following meeting with Shiite opposition group al-Wefaq; later charged group’s leader with “violating political association law”, requested 3-month court suspension of activities of al-Wefaq, 2 other opposition groups. 1 police killed in bomb blast south of Manama 4 July, authorities blamed “terrorists”.

Iran

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1 extended until 24 Nov after parties failed to reach comprehensive agreement before 20 July deadline. Non-stop bargaining 2-20 July failed to bridge differences, most importantly on extent of uranium enrichment: each party stuck to maximalist opening gambits wrongly assuming other side desperate for deal. FM Zarif 14 July signalled Iran prepared to maintain operating centrifuges at current level of 9,400 SWU until 2021 when fuel contract with Russia expires, then increase capacity to 190,000; P5+1 rejected idea as “unworkable”. Extension deal included agreement all parties will uphold obligations under Nov 2013 Joint Plan of Action. Iran additionally to convert 25kg of stockpile of 20% enriched uranium in oxidised form into fuel for Tehran Research Reactor, blend down stocks of material enriched to less than 2%; in exchange to be allowed access to further $2.8 billion of restricted assets.

Yemen

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Clashes in north between Houthis and rival tribes, army units intensified early month: hundreds killed, tens of thousands displaced. Houthi fighters 8 July captured Amran city north of Sanaa, including military base of 310th brigade, aligned with Islah party and General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar; air force bombed Houthi positions. Houthis agreed to return Amran to govt control following pressure from President Hadi, along with UNSC, U.S., EU and GCC; tensions remained high, skirmishes continued in surrounding areas. Tribal militants continued to attack critical energy infrastructure crippling oil exports, causing lengthy electricity blackouts in Sanaa. Govt 30 July lifted diesel subsides prompting scattered protests. Alleged al-Qaeda affiliates continued assassination campaign against security personnel in south; at least 2 soldiers, 6 militants reported killed in car bombings, clashes in Abyan 27 July.

Yemen

  |  1 Jul 2014

Deteriorated

Yemen’s transition is gradually unravelling amid unprecedented security and economic challenges partly caused by political infighting and weak consensus on national dialogue results. Violence between Huthis and army spiked when air force early June bombed Huthi positions as they advanced toward Sanaa; 100 Huthis, 20 govt forces reported killed 2 June; hundreds killed in north throughout month. UN brokered ceasefire agreement 4 June: agreement lacked national power-sharing arrangement with Huthis, plan for implementing gradual disarmament; fighting later resumed. Another ceasefire announced 22 June but never implemented. Military campaign against al-Qaeda (AQAP) continued at slower pace; govt raids, U.S. drone strikes met with sporadic retaliatory attacks, mostly against security forces. Economic crisis worsened: govt almost unable to pay salaries causing fears of unrest; tribal sabotage of electrical grid early June left Sanaa without fuel or electricity for days prompting mass protests 11 June calling for overthrow of govt. President Hadi same day announced cabinet reshuffle; failed to replace politically divisive PM Basindawa or bring new groups into govt. Govt forces mid-month surrounded Sanaa’s Saleh mosque on suspicion premises being used by former President Saleh to stage coup.

Iraq

  |  1 Jul 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Militants fighting under banner of al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) early month seized large swaths of territory during surge of several hundred jihadis through NW; UN estimated over 2,400 killed throughout month. ISIL 9 June seized major northern city of Mosul; PM Maliki’s local allies, including Ninewa Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, fled to neighbouring Kurdistan. Army, security forces and hundreds of thousands of civilians also fled; others celebrated “liberation” from central govt control; local armed groups joined jihadis, later claimed role in takeover. Several other towns and areas across NW seized: militants 11 June overran Tikrit, 24 June reportedly seized main oil refinery at Baiji after 10-day siege. Kurdish forces 12 June took control of Kirkuk after security forces fled. Govt reportedly lost control of key border crossings with Syria, Jordan mid- to late month. ISIL 29 June announced establishment of Islamic caliphate in territories under its control. Tens of thousands joined Shiite militias after mid-month calls from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to fight ISIL; large-scale rallies staged across Baghdad. Maliki 13 June said cabinet granted him “unlimited powers” to combat militants; army late month launched operation to retake Tikrit. U.S. deployed aircraft carrier, announced plans to send 300 military advisors to Baghdad, said armed drones deployed to assist advisors; Iran reportedly sent 2,000 ground troops. Scores killed in several bombings targeting Kurdish political party offices 8-9 June. Deadly car bombings continued across Baghdad including at least 60 killed 7 June.

Iran

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Another round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1 held in Vienna 16-21 June: Iranian FM Zarif 18 June said drafting of agreement begun, “many differences” remain including extent of uranium enrichment. Russia, China sided with P5+1 counterparts in insisting Iran reduce number of centrifuges; Iran reportedly frustrated by move. Vienna negotiations followed series of high-level bilateral meetings, including direct U.S.-Iran talks in Geneva 9-10 June. Following Sunni jihadis surge in Iraq (see Iraq), President Rouhani’s deputy chief of staff said only Iran and U.S. can resolve crisis; U.S. Sec State Kerry suggested cooperation could be “constructive”. Deputy U.S. Sec State Bill Burns and Zarif 16 June discussed Iraq in Vienna; no conclusions reported, Iranian official reportedly said military cooperation off the table.

Yemen

  |  1 Jun 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Security and economic conditions deteriorated sharply as al-Qaeda retaliatory attacks against U.S.-backed govt offensive in south continued: AQAP raid on govt institutions in Seiyun, Hadramout, 23 May left at least 27 dead including 12 govt troops and 11 attackers; govt regained control of city 24 May. At least 23 killed 13 May in simultaneous attacks on military positions in Azzan and Jul al-Rida. U.S. embassy in Sanaa suspended public services 8 May in anticipation of retaliatory attacks. Defence Minister Mohamed Nasser Ahmad and 2 senior security officers 9 May survived ambush traveling from Abyan to Shebwa province. President Hadi early May said country in “open war” with AQAP, would expand operations. Prominent AQAP figure Abu Abdel Rhaman al-Masri reportedly killed late May; army 25 May announced top AQAP militant Saleh al-Tays killed. Attacks against oil and infrastructure escalated in wake of govt offensive; main oil export pipeline bombed 6-7 May; gunmen same evening closed Maarib gas-fired power plant. Fighting in northern Amran province renewed 20 May between Huthi fighters and tribes aligned with the Ahmar clan and the Sunni Islamist party, Islah, backed by the 310 military brigade. Dozens killed thus far; combatants on both sides preparing for further clashes. Fighting between army and Huthi fighters in Amran city late May left dozens dead including at least 13 soldiers.

Iraq

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Results of 30 April parliamentary elections reported 26 May: PM Maliki’s State of Law list won 92 seats, more than 2 leading rival Shiite groups combined. Electoral commission reported 60% overall participation despite low turnout in govt-controlled parts of Anbar province. Maliki signalled intention to retain premiership in govt comprised of State of Law along with smaller parties, excluding leading Shia and Sunni rivals. Sunni Mouttahidoun group publicly abandoned hope of forming govt without Maliki, shifted focus to organising Sunni and secular groups for negotiations over formation of new govt. Deadly bombings across Baghdad mid-month followed election-day lull: at least 34 killed 13 May, at least 29 killed in bombings and shootings 15 May; at least 35 Shiite pilgrims killed 22 May. At least 74 killed across country 28 May, including dozens in several Baghdad car bombings. Govt forces escalated fight against insurgents in and around Falluja, including indiscriminate shelling with “barrel bombs”; scores killed, thousands fled. Increased tensions between previously allied anti-govt fighters after Falluja military council late-April accused Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) of kidnapping, beating, and disarming its members, trying to assert unilateral dominance; ISIL clashed with other groups, including over sale of gas and other commodities in eastern Anbar.

Iran

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Fourth round of talks between Iran and P5+1 seeking comprehensive nuclear agreement held in Vienna 14-16 May, no progress achieved: U.S. and allies insisted Iran drastically scale back enrichment program, lengthening “breakout time” required for building nuclear bomb to at least 1 year; Iran insisted at least 19,000 centrifuges needed to meet country’s practical needs. Zarif and P5+1 lead negotiator Ashton held follow-up meeting in Istanbul 26-27 May. IAEA announced Iran offered additional information on past experiments with exploding bridgewire detonators, part of what IAEA considers “possible military dimensions” of nuclear program, after agency early month signalled dissatisfaction with information provided; Iran agreed to provide more information by 25 Aug, including on alleged large-scale high-explosives experimentation, studies on neutron transport. IAEA confirmed Iran continuing to live up to obligations under Nov interim agreement, cut stockpile of 20% enriched uranium by around 80%.

Iraq

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Security situation continued to deteriorate in run-up to 30 April parliamentary election with Shiite militias operating openly, ongoing fighting between govt forces and Sunni insurgents in Anbar province. Jihadi Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) consolidated presence in Falluja, including staging military parade and organising basic services; early April pushed eastward toward areas closer to Baghdad, including establishing presence in Abu Ghraib city. Govt continued to use Anbar crisis to marginalise Sunni political opposition, secure domestic and international political support. Violence across country left hundreds dead. ISIL suicide bombers 25 April killed 33 at Shiite political rally in Baghdad; militants 28 April killed at least 50 as soldiers and police cast votes, including 30 in suicide bombing of Kurdish political rally. 14 reported killed on election day 30 April; officials reported over 50 attacks on polling stations, voters in north and west. Electoral commission cancelled balloting in parts of Anbar due to ongoing violence. Cabinet approved “national safety” bill enabling PM to declare state of emergency at will; awaiting deliberation in parliament.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Unidentified gunmen firing from Yemen killed 2 Saudi guards patrolling the border in Asir Province on 10 April; a similar attack killed 1 guard and wounded another in Jizan Province on 14 April.

Yemen

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Tense stalemate between Huthis and Islah/al-Ahmar affiliated tribes continued, punctured by periodic clashes in Amran and Dhammar provinces. UN envoy Jamal Benomar 24 April said President Hadi and Huthis have agreed to discuss Huthi disarmament. Airstrikes 20-21 April killed some 55 reported al-Qaeda militants in south as part of reported major campaign backed by U.S. drone strikes; ground offensive launched 29 April. 15 soldiers killed 29 April in suspected AQAP ambush in Sabwa province; suicide bomb attack on Aden army base 2 April killed 11; suspected AQAP militants 15 April shot dead al-Bayda province governor; gunmen 21-22 killed 4 senior security officials in several attacks in Sanaa. Thousands rallied in Sanaa 23 April in response to call by Feb 11 Movement, called for dismissal of govt, end to fuel shortages. UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen 25 April said 47% of population in need of emergency humanitarian services. Friends of Yemen meeting in London began 29 April, urged Yemen govt to set clear timetable for constitution referendum and subsequent elections.

Jordan

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Jordanian warplanes 16 April hit and destroyed several vehicles crossing the border from Syria into Jordan, which officials claimed carried armed Syrian rebels. Casualties unknown.

Iran

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Another round of talks between Iran and P5+1 seeking comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program held in Vienna 7-9 April. Talks signalled end to first phase in which parties explained respective positions, ahead of second stage of negotiations; next round of talks to start 13 May. Iranian FM Zarif 9 April claimed Iran and P5+1 already in “50-60% agreement”, but significant disagreements remain, including on number of centrifuges to be allowed in Iran, scope of inspections and Iran’s ballistic missiles program. IAEA 17 April said Iran continuing to comply with Nov Joint Plan of Action (JPA), cutting stockpiles of 20% enriched uranium; construction of conversion plant needed for rendering uranium stockpiles unfit for enrichment to higher levels, as promised under JPA, delayed. Nuclear negotiations unaffected by other tensions including U.S. refusal to grant visa to Iran’s UN envoy over role in 1979 hostage crisis, European Parliament resolution condemning human rights situation in Iran. 4 Iranian border guards, held hostage for months by Sunni insurgent group Jaish al-Adl in Pakistani border area, freed 4 April after March execution of fifth hostage.

Iran

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Second round of negotiations on comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 held in Vienna 17-19 March, following expert-level talks early March. Escalating animosity between Russia and Western members of P5+1 over Ukraine crisis had no tangible impact, however Russian deputy FM Ryabkov subsequently threatened unspecified “retaliatory measures” against U.S. and EU in negotiations. Next round planned for 7-9 April. EU foreign policy chief Ashton 8-9 March visited Iran, first such visit since 2008; met with rights activists without govt approval, FM Zarif reportedly cancelled 17 March dinner ahead of Vienna talks to protest Ashton’s “uncoordinated” move. IAEA, monitoring compliance with Nov Joint Plan of Action (JPA), 20 March said Iran fulfilling obligations, govt to start conversion of enriched uranium stockpiles to below 5% 9 April. At least 14 border guards killed in attack near Pakistani border claimed by Sunni insurgent group Jaish al-Adl, 16 alleged “rebel” prisoners hanged by local authorities in apparent revenge killing; insurgents later reportedly killed 1 border guard held hostage since early Feb, 4 still in captivity.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Govt 7 March designated Muslim Brotherhood (MB) terrorist organisation.

Yemen

  |  1 Apr 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Violence in North increased: clashes between Huthis and opposing tribesmen in Jawf killed over 30 late Feb-early March. Fighting spread to Hamdan area near Sanaa, killing over a dozen early March; military entered Hamdan to separate warring factions; ceasefire negotiations ongoing. 12 killed 22 March when Huthis clashed with security forces near Amran city; tensions remain high. Govt 12 March concluded deal in Dalia governorate ending clashes between army and Hiraak. Hadramout tribal confederation mid-month accused govt of not following through on deal to provide financial compensation and jobs in exchange for end to hostilities. AQAP attacks continued including at least 20 soldiers killed 24 March at checkpoint in Hadramout; at least 5 drone strikes conducted. President Hadi 8 March replaced several officials including head of political security and interior minister; same day appointed constitution-writing committee. Thousands protested in Sanaa 21 March calling for release of political prisoners, trial of former President Saleh.

Bahrain

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

3 police killed in bombing 3 March in Manama, opposition group Saraya al-Ashtar reportedly claimed responsibility; govt next day designated group terrorist organisation along with 2 others. More bombings followed, several police injured.

Iraq

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Amid ongoing fight against insurgents in Anbar province, Anbar Provincial Council accused Iraqi army of not seriously trying to solve crisis. Shia chairman of secular Iraqiya Alliance in parliament Iyad Alawi criticised lack of progress; criticism also from members of Sunni Mouttahidoun electoral list, with one MP calling govt operation “not a war on terrorism, but a war against Anbar and its people”. Local Mouttahidoun officials in Ramadi negotiated with central govt, including over deployment of army and enrolment of recruits in local police force; tribal leader Ahmed Abu Richa 16 March urged uniting army, Ramadi police forces and tribes in joint operation against insurgents controlling neighbouring Falluja. Ahead of April parliamentary elections, Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) discussed postponement of poll in Anbar due to ongoing turmoil and high numbers of displaced; UN 27 March said 400,000 displaced since beginning of year. IHEC commissioners resigned 25 March blaming political and judicial “interference” in electoral process; 30 March withdrew resignations following UN appeals, reports parliament ruled to limit judiciary’s powers to impose candidate bans. Widespread violence continued ahead of elections with bombings across Iraq claiming hundreds of lives: at least 45 killed 9 March in single car bombing in southern city Hilla, at least 80 killed 25 March including 41 soldiers.

Iraq

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

Anbar province remained under siege by army following early-Jan seizure of key areas by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL): army continued shelling of Falluja and Ramadi suburbs, govt withheld electricity and water; hundreds killed during fighting which also saw militants bring down army helicopter 22 Feb killing all 4 crew. ISIL mid-month seized parts of northern town Suleiman Pek, govt forces 22 Feb retook city and surrounding areas after over a week of fighting which left dozens dead. Ahead of April elections Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr 16 Feb announced retirement from politics, saying no bloc in govt or parliament will represent Sadr Movement which had held 6 cabinet posts, 40 parliament seats; many Sadrists reacted by resigning their posts. Sadr 18 Feb called PM Maliki “tyrant”, “dictator”, govt corrupt. In first assassination of candidate for April election gunmen 7 Feb killed Sadr supporter in W Baghdad. Car bombings across central Iraq continued with multiple deadly attacks; at least 34 killed 5 Feb in central Baghdad, at least 49 killed 18 Feb in attacks in Baghdad and southern Hillah, at least 31 killed in 27 Feb blast in Baghdad.

Bahrain

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

Demonstrators 13 Feb clashed with police on first of 3 days of protest to mark third anniversary of uprising, 29 arrested; tens of thousands demonstrated 15 Feb, 1 policeman died in bomb blast. More clashes reported 24 Feb in Shiite villages west of capital 28 Feb following funeral for villager who died in detention 2 days earlier. King approved law imposing jail sentence of up to 7 years on anyone publicly insulting King, flag or national emblem.

Yemen

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged Risk Alert

Tensions in North continued, threatening shaky ceasefires in Dammaj, Arhab and Amran and rekindling of larger-scale violence, fracturing of delicate political consensus. Huthis 3 Feb won significant battle in Amran, defeating Ahmar fighters in Ahmar’s home village; Huthis consolidated gains through deals with Hahsid tribesmen. Security forces 28 Feb clashed with Huthis in Hizm, Jawf province, at least 13 killed. 2 weeks after its formation, presidential committee charged with defining federal structure 10 Feb announced Yemen to be divided into 6 regions, 2 in South and 4 in North. Rushed announcement stoked political opposition; majority of Hiraak rejected outcome, claiming not sufficiently included in process; Huthis also opposed. UNSC 26 Feb established sanctions regime to impose travel bans and asset freezes on individuals or entities obstructing transition. Mass anti-govt protest held in Sanaa 21 Feb. Suspected al-Qaeda militants 20 Feb killed Salafi Shaikh Ali Bawazir in Hadramawt. 29 prisoners freed 13 Feb in attack on central security prison in capital. 2 foreigners kidnapped early Feb in Sanaa. South remained volatile: military clashes with armed Hiraak in al-Dalia governorate and with tribesmen in Hadramawt continued including at least 12 killed, 14 soldiers kidnapped in Daleh province18 Feb. 

Iran

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

Talks on final comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program 18-20 Feb in Vienna ended with agreement on timetable, framework agenda; next technical level meeting 3 March and political level 17 March in Vienna, EU HR/VP Ashton to visit Tehran 9-10 March. Although conflicting interpretations remain regarding path set out for coming talks by Nov Joint Plan of Action, IAEA 20 Feb reported Iran complying with confidence-building measures. Iran and IAEA 8-9 Feb agreed on additional steps to clarify aspects of nuclear program to be implemented by 15 May 2014, including access to uranium mine in Yazd, Ardakan concentration plant, information on Iran’s stated need for exploding-bridgewire detonators; first time aspect of what IAEA considers program’s “possible military dimensions” will be addressed. U.S. 6 Feb targeted businesses for evading sanctions, second such move since Nov deal; President Obama 11 Feb warned U.S. will come down hard on companies breaching sanctions. President Rouhani same day vowed to pursue peaceful nuclear technology “forever”; Supreme Leader Khamenei 17 Feb said not opposed to talks but predicted they will lead nowhere. Sunni insurgent group Jaish al-Adl abducted 5 Iranian soldiers on border with Pakistan; interior minister 17 Feb threatened troop incursion into Pakistan to retrieve them, Iran-Pakistan border commission 21 Feb agreed on joint efforts to track them down. Reuters 24 Feb reported Iran Nov 2013 signed deal to sell arms to Iraq breaching UN weapons embargo; govt denied claims.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

4 killed 20 Feb in clashes in eastern Shiite area, including 2 police. 7 protesters jailed for up to 20 years for demonstrating against govt.

Yemen

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

National dialogue launched March 2013 officially concluded 25 Jan; new federal political system endorsed, president’s term extended by 1 year to oversee constitution drafting and referendum before elections. Dialogue outcomes included “solutions document” that agrees on federalism in principle and empowers President Hadi to appoint small negotiating team to determine number of federal units. Document failed to win support of entire Hiraak (southern seccessionist movement) delegations. Security continued to deteriorate. Houthi representative Ahmed Sharaf el-Din killed 21 Jan on way to conference. In North Huthis and Salafis 11 Jan agreed to ceasefire after months of clashes in Dammaj; Salafi spokesman 13 Jan said at least 210 Salafis killed in fighting in last 2 months; fighting between Huthis and various opponents continued in other areas including Jawf, Amran, Sadaa and Sanaa governorates. Tensions in south continued: clashes erupted 17 Jan between armed residents and military al-Dalia governorate; southern separatists demonstrating against national dialogue 27 Jan clashed with troops in Ataq, 4 wounded. Tribesmen attacks on oil infrastructure in Hadramout and Shabwa continued. Suspected al-Qaeda militants 16 Jan attacked military camp in al-Baydah, killing 9 soldiers; 31 Jan killed 17 soldiers in 2 attacks in Hadramout. Unknown assailants 19 Jan killed Iranian diplomat in Sanaa. 3 suspected al-Qaeda killed in drone strike in Marib province 24 Jan.

Iran

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

P5+1 and Iran 10 Jan agreed on implementation of 6-month Joint Plan of Action (JPA) signed in Geneva in Nov. Plan took effect 20 Jan; IAEA confirmed Iran halted 20% uranium enrichment, also provided better access to IAEA inspectors, stopped installing new centrifuges, suspended construction of heavy water reactor in Arak; EU and U.S. initiated sanctions relief in return, in accordance with deal. Implementation agreement included specification that Iran gains access to $4.2bn of blocked assets in 8 instalments, first planned 1 Feb; also specified exact nature of JPA’s research and development provision. P5+1 and Iran to reconvene 18 Feb in Vienna for negotiations on final comprehensive agreement. IAEA 29 Jan inspected Gachin uranium mine in accordance with separate Nov Iran-IAEA agreement. U.S. Senate push to impose new sanctions appearing to lose momentum. Diplomatic row over “Geneva II” talks on Syria as UNSG Ban 19 Jan invited Iran to participate, 21 Jan withdrew invitation following U.S.; U.S. warned companies Iran still “not open for business” due to remaining sanctions. Violence in eastern border region continued; Baluchi Sunni separatist group Jaish al-Adl 25 Jan claimed attack on Revolutionary Guards killing 7.

Bahrain

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

Opposition groups 9 Jan withdrew from national dialogue talks; talks reconvened next day following intervention by Crown Prince, parties agreed to basis for further negotiations. Hundreds protested in Shiite village Diraz 17 Jan saying talks meaningless.

Iraq

  |  1 Feb 2014

Deteriorated

Month saw security further deteriorate in Anbar province following 30 Dec govt demolition of Sunni protest camp in Ramadi and negotiated withdrawal of govt forces from province: as govt forces withdrew, Islamic militants from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) 1 Jan seized key areas of Anbar’s main cities, Ramadi and Falluja. Fierce clashes followed between ISIL and govt forces backed by local allies, killing scores including over 100 killed in Ramadi and Falluja 3 Jan; despite local tribes, clerics and former officers regaining control of the city, govt made no distinction between Falluja locals and ISIL militants, announced Falluja in hands of ISIL, calling for national, international support in “war on terror”. UNHCR 24 Jan said 65,000 fled fighting in Falluja, Ramadi in past week alone fearing clashes between army, locals and ISIL militants. Govt forces 29 Jan regained control of areas west of Baghdad after weeks of fighting; militants next day attacked transport ministry building. PM Maliki 16 Jan requested new arms, training from U.S.; U.S. VP Biden 26 Jan said Maliki has U.S. support, Senate signed off on long-stalled sale of Apache helicopters. Bomb attacks across Iraq continued: at least 73 killed 15 Jan, 27 killed 20 Jan in Shia neighbourhoods of Baghdad. Govt estimated 1,013 killed during month, highest number since April 2008. 26 hanged on terrorism charges 21 Jan; UN criticised “conveyer-belt of executions”. Kurdistan Regional Govt 8 Jan announced plans to sell 2mn barrels of oil to Turkey via newly-built pipeline by month’s end; PM Maliki 12 Jan threatened to cut region’s share of federal budget, Oil Minister Luaibi 17 Jan said govt preparing legal action against Kurdistan, Turkey.

Yemen

  |  2 Jan 2014

Deteriorated

Security deteriorated after armed forces early-month killed prominent Hadrami sheikh; Hadrami tribes, supported by Hiraak, set 20 Dec as deadline for handing over killer, transferring governorate security responsibilities to them. Thousands protested in South, including Qaten, Seiyun and Tarim cities in Hadramout, and clashed with armed forces. Army 27 Dec struck funeral of southern separatist in al-Dalia, killing 19 including 4 children. Tribal attacks on oil pipelines continue: unknown assailants 27 Dec blew up main oil pipeline from Masila field. At least 56 killed, 215 injured 5 Dec in al-Qaeda attack on defence ministry complex in Sanaa. At least 4 soldiers killed 31 Dec in suicide bombing of security HQ in Aden. 15 killed 12 Dec in U.S. drone strike on reported wedding convoy; parliament 15 Dec issued non-binding agreement banning drones. In north, fighting between Huthis and Salafis continued. Several political parties 23 Dec signed agreement granting some autonomy to South and supporting federalism as basis of new state structure. New as-yet undrafted constitution to decide on number of regions and their authorities.

Bahrain

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

Courts handed series of prison sentences to Shiite activists. Govt denied entry to UK rights lawyer who was to observe trial of opposition Al-Wefaq leader Khalil Al-Marzooq. Govt 29 Dec detained Al Wefaq leader Ali Salman on charges of “inciting hatred”, imposed travel ban after his release. Homemade bomb wounded 2 police near Manama 17 Dec.

Iran

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

Govt, P5+1 and IAEA 9-13 Dec met to discuss technical details of 24 Nov Geneva nuclear deal, but Iran pulled out of talks after U.S. 12 Dec blacklisted 19 companies linked to Iran’s nuclear program; Tehran said new sanctions “violated” the spirit of Geneva agreement. Talks further jeopardised after bipartisan group of U.S. senators 19 Dec introduced new sanctions bill that would strengthen existing sanctions if Iran breaks interim deal; President Obama threatened to veto bill if it passed. 100 hardline Iranian parliamentarians 25 Dec introduced bill obliging govt to increase uranium enrichment to 60% if U.S. introduces new sanctions. Head of Iranian negotiating team 1 Jan said sides had proposed 20 Jan for Geneva deal to go into effect. IAEA 8 Dec inspected Arak nuclear plant; govt and IAEA 12 Dec agreed to meet 21 Jan to discuss “practical steps” to improve transparency of nuclear program. Public row erupted between President Rouhani’s govt and Revolutionary Guards commander Ali Jafari: FM Zarif 3 Dec said U.S. could eliminate Iran’s defensive systems “with one bomb”; Jafari called comments “incorrect”, said govt “infected by Western doctrine” and “fundamental change must occur”. Nuclear chief Salehi 1 Dec said govt in talks with Russia to build another nuclear plant at Bushehr, construction to begin in 2014. Govt 5 Dec announced it executed 4 Ahwazi Arab political activists on charges of enmity against God and threatening national security. Upsurge in violence on Iran’s eastern and western borders: gunmen killed 15 Iranian and 3 Iraqi workers on gas pipeline near Balad Ruz village NE of Baghdad 13 Dec; 3 Revolutionary Guards killed in SE by roadside bomb believed to be planted by Baluchi Sunni separatist group Jaish al-Adl 18 Dec.

Iraq

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

Daily violence continued with UN reporting over 700 killed including over 661civilians: at least 42 killed, 84 injured in series of bomb attacks 25 Dec; series of bombings in Baghdad Shia neighbourhoods 30-31 Dec killed 23; over 70 killed 16 Dec; at least 18 military personnel killed 21 Dec in ambush by Islamic State of Iraq. UN reported at least 7,818 civilians killed in 2013, marking deadliest year since 2008. Security forces 28 Dec raided home of Sunni lawmaker Ahmed al-Alwani, arrested him on terrorism charges; 7 killed in ensuing gun-battle. At least 10 killed 30 Dec when security forces dismantled Sunni protest camp in Ramadi, al-Anbar province, calling for removal of PM Maliki. 44 MPs resigned 30 Dec over demolishing of camp, arrest of Alwani. U.S. reportedly shipped Hellfire missiles, reconnaissance drones to help govt combat militants. Govt 25 Dec closed border with Syria following start of military operation against al-Qaeda in western desert.

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CrisisWatch N°136

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