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CrisisWatch Database

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Syria

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated

Situation continued to worsen for northern armed opposition: regime advance continued in Aleppo, jihadi Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL or ISIS) gained north of city including capturing series of towns; Aleppo’s rebels expressed fears of impending defeat: regime pushing to encircle rebels inside city, IS fighting to recapture additional territory in northern countryside and push further west. Hostilities between regime and IS intensified: regime continued air strikes on IS-held territory near Aleppo and further east, including dozens reported killed in Raqqah city mid-month; IS 8 Aug reportedly captured army base in Raqqah province, scores killed; hundreds reported killed, including in IS mass executions, after several days of fighting concluding in IS capture of Taqba air base, last regime stronghold in Raqqah province, 24 Aug. IS early to mid-month reportedly executed 700 members of al-Sheitat tribe in Deir al-Zour province in response to local uprising against IS rule. Tensions between al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) and former rebel allies continued in Idlib province; local JN chief reportedly assassinated 2 Aug. Regime and allied forces continued campaign around Damascus, scores reported killed in air strikes: mid-month seized most of Mleiha town in eastern suburbs after months-long battle; area seen as strategic entry-point to eastern Ghouta, most significant remaining rebel stronghold in greater Damascus. U.S. late month reportedly started surveillance flights following military intervention against IS in Iraq (see Iraq).

Lebanon

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated

Month saw heavy clashes between Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Syrian rebels in border town Arsal, first major Syrian rebel incursion directly challenging LAF: close to 100 soldiers, rebels and civilians reported killed; several soldiers captured by rebels. Fighting sparked by 2 Aug arrest of rebel commander reportedly tied to either al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra or Islamic State (formerly ISIL or ISIS): militants subsequently attacked checkpoints, overran govt and security buildings taking dozens hostage, attempted to take control of parts of Arsal; LAF counteroffensive, aided by Syrian Air Force raids, reclaimed city after 5-day battle. LAF launched series of raids targeting Syrians across country, detained tens of alleged members of extremist groups. Saudi Arabia early month offered $1bn aid to LAF, U.S. later pledged additional arms.

Egypt

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

Several killed during protests marking first anniversary of deadly raids on Cairo protest camps, including Rabaa Square mass killings, following ouster of former President Morsi: 9 protesters, 1 police reported killed 14-15 Aug; protester reported killed 8 Aug. Human Rights Watch 12 Aug urged investigation into 2013 killings, said protest raids may amount to crimes against humanity. MB Freedom and Justice Party dissolved by court 9 Aug; Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam 7 Aug rejected death sentence for Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, late month commuted sentence to life imprisonment. Violence continued in Sinai including reported army killing of 11 militants 3 Aug; jihadi group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis mid-month executed 4 over alleged links to security army, Israel. 5 police, 4 alleged smugglers reported killed west of Alexandria 5 Aug; unknown gunmen 18 Aug shot dead policeman north of Cairo.

Syria

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged Risk Alert

Month saw northern armed opposition facing most dangerous situation since start of uprising: rival rebel group Islamic State (IS) (formerly ISIL, see Iraq) defeated other rebels and gained territory, oil and manpower in eastern province Deir al-Zour. Regime forces made progress encircling rebels in Aleppo: rebels increasingly disorganised and poorly armed, state backers’ modest increase of support for moderate factions failed to compensate for cuts in funding to allied group Islamic Front. Observers expressed fears moderate opposition setbacks in Aleppo could provide opportunity for IS to recapture ground in city’s northern countryside and push further west. IS and regime forces increasingly drawn into direct confrontation as consequence of respective gains including: IS mid-month reportedly killed hundreds seizing control of gas field east of Homs, seized regime bases in Raqqa and Hassakeh provinces late month. Al-Qaeda linked rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra mid-month indicated intention to establish Islamic emirate of their own: sought to gain ground in Idlib province at expense of other rebels. Exile opposition group Syrian National Coalition (SNC) 9 July elected Hadi al-Bahra President; 22 July voted to dissolve “interim” govt, form new one within 1 month. Staffan de Mistura 10 July appointed UN special envoy to Syria, replacing Lakhdar Brahimi.

Lebanon

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Army “security plan” continued to hold despite presidential, governmental and parliamentary paralysis: security and intelligence measures intensified including checkpoints, raids of houses, and arrests of dozens of Islamists in Arsal, Tripoli, Saida and other areas. Security officials claimed jihadi networks discovered planning suicide attacks against Lebanese officials and civilians; 28 charged with belonging to jihadi group Islamic State (formerly ISIL, see Iraq) 7 July. Continued clashes between Syrian rebels and pro-Syrian regime fighters in eastern border areas: scores reported killed mid- to late month. Cross-border rocket fire from south into Israel mid-month, Israeli forces retaliated with shelling; no casualties reported.

Egypt

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Govt early July implemented deep fuel subsidy cuts as part of wider aggressive campaign to reduce budget deficit, also including electricity subsidy cuts and taxes on consumer goods: resulting fuel price hikes led to few scattered protests; full impact yet to be felt by consumers, fears move could increase social tensions; measures expected to fulfil one requirement for Egypt to secure IMF assistance package. Several deadly incidents along border with Israel including: soldier killed in roadside bombing in Rafah 9 July; 2 tribal elders reported killed by suspected Islamist militants in same town 21 July; 8 reported killed, including soldier, in explosions targeting security installations 14 July; over 20 militants, 4 children reported killed in shoot-outs, mortar fire 26-27 July. At least 21 guards killed in Western Desert oasis 19 July, Sinai-based jihadi group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis blamed. Crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood (MB) continued, extended to other parties from Alliance for Support of Legitimacy (ASL) opposing 2013 military coup; senior leaders of Construction and Development, Wasat party arrested early July. ASL 3-4 July arranged demonstrations on anniversary of coup, at least 6 reported killed in clashes, bomb blast in Cairo outside presidential palace. Former PM Kandil freed from jail mid-July, first release of senior official from administration of ousted President Morsi.

Lebanon

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Successor to former President Michel Sleiman still not elected; ministers unable to agree on mechanism for exercising cabinet’s authorities in power vacuum; March 14 alliance boycotted parliament. Army’s “security plan” continued to hold despite several incidents including: 2 police killed, several injured in 3 suicide bombings in Beirut and Bekaa Valley 20-25 June; 2 Palestinians killed in gunfight near Beirut refugee camp 30 June; unknown gunmen 17 June killed soldier in Tripoli. Expatriate voting in Syria’s presidential elections deepened frictions with segments of Lebanese population; some called for expulsion of Syrians, officials declared “security concerns” cause for revoking refugee status of Syrians travelling back to their country.

Syria

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Regime orchestration of President Assad’s 3 June re-election illustrated steady progress in consolidating control of Damascus, Homs and areas in between; Assad reportedly won 88.7% of vote; constitutional court claimed 73% turnout. Regime forces 15 June retook Kasab border town near Turkey, limitations nevertheless visible; fears that return of pro-regime Shia foreign fighters to face Sunni jihadis in Iraq (see Iraq) could deplete pro-regime forces. Northern rebels reported changes in nature of military support, increasing coordination between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey: Turkey’s border controls tightened, Qatar cut backing for Salafi-led Islamic Front; U.S. reportedly modestly increased aid. Observers raised concerns about durability of inter-state cooperation, effect on military balance; 9 senior officers 14 June quit opposition Syrian Military Council over mismanagement, shortage of aid. Scores killed in continued battles between Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other rebels in Deir al-Zour: ISIL established control over most of city’s western countryside and key entrance to city; regime control over other entrances left ISIL’s opponents and remaining civilian population effectively encircled. Anti-ISIL militants, including al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, formed new local alliance, Majlas Shura al-Mujahidin, setting aside ideological differences for sake of cooperation. Several regime air strikes hit ISIL targets, including group’s Raqqah HQ 15 June; at least 50 reported killed in regime strikes inside Iraq 24 June. Deadly regime barrel bombings continued, including at least 60 reported killed in Aleppo 16 June. At least 4 killed in Israeli airstrikes 23 June (see Israel-Palestine). Govt handed over remaining declared chemical weapons 23 June; OPCW mid-month reported chlorine gas possibly used in attacks, kept investigation open.

Egypt

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

President Sisi inaugurated 8 June after announcement of election result: Sisi won 96.9%, official turnout at 47.5%, opposition alleged fraud. Sisi 17 June swore in new cabinet retaining Ibrahim Mehleb as PM, appointed 13 new ministers without change in key ministries including defence, interior. Crackdown on dissidents and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) continued: MB Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and 182 others, including 13 other senior members, sentenced to death 19 June; 2 protesters killed in clashes with govt forces next day in Cairo during demonstrations against sentencing. 1 police shot dead 13 June during dispersal of pro-MB protest in Cairo; another killed 16 June during shoot-out with alleged MB supporters; 2 police killed in bomb blast near presidential palace 30 June, claimed by militant group Ajnad Misr. 3 Al Jazeera journalists sentenced to 7 year imprisonment 23 June for helping “terrorist organisation”. Alaa Abdelfattah, prominent revolutionary youth activist known for participation in 2011 Tahrir Square occupation, sentenced 11 June to 15 years imprisonment for participating in unauthorised protest.

Egypt

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Presidential election held 26-28 May amid heavy security presence; Hamdeen Sabbahi, sole challenger to Former Defence Minister Field Marshal Abdelfattah el-Sisi, alleged number of violations; reports of detentions and arrests of campaign members, voter intimidation, pro-Sisi campaigning inside polling stations, Sabbahi’s representatives denied access. PM Mehleb declared second day of voting public holiday, Election Commission extended voting to third day; both Sabbahi and Sisi filed complaints against extension. Early unofficial results suggested Sisi won around 93% of vote. Reported turnout numbers varied, judicial sources said around 44%. Sabbahi conceded defeat, questioned turnout numbers. Muslim Brotherhood-led National Alliance to Support Legitimacy claimed only around 10% voted, staged several protests; 4 supporters reported killed 30 May during clashes with police in Cairo. Tamarrod group said 1 member and 1 Sisi campaign coordinator shot dead in Giza province same day. In run-up to election, Sisi restricted public appearances to select TV interviews after claiming 2 assassination plots against him uncovered early month: campaign message included warnings 2 years of tough reforms needed; media should temper criticism of govt in interim; protests and strikes should cease; democracy not feasible in short term. Sisi showed no inclination towards reconciling with anti-coup forces. Violent unrest, acts of terrorism and state crackdown continued. Twin suicide bombings killed 3 in Sinai 2 May, claimed by insurgent group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis; same day 2 soldiers killed in Cairo bombings and 2 killed in Alexandria, reportedly during clashes between Morsi supporters and residents. 3 police killed 20 May in drive-by shooting outside Cairo’s al-Azhar university. Court 21 May sentenced former president Mubarak to 3 years imprisonment for stealing public funds.

Syria

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Regime and rebel fighters early May struck deal for rebel evacuation from Homs old quarter: hundreds of fighters withdrew to rebel-held areas north of city; army entered central Homs 9 May. Regime accepted agreement on terms it previously rejected; rebels secured withdrawal not achievable by military means. Regime compromise reportedly due to Iranian pressure; at least 1 Iranian citizen among roughly 40 detainees released by Islamic Front rebel alliance as part of deal. At least 39 killed by mortar fire 22 May during rally in support of President Assad’s candidacy in June’s presidential election. Rebel infighting intensified: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gained ground in east; over 200 rebels reported killed in clashes early month in Deir al-Zour, over 100,000 residents fled. Tensions also rose between al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) and allied rebel groups: JN early month captured local rebel commander in southern province Daara, sparking clashes; leading groups cooperating with JN, including Islamic Front, 17 May released joint “Honour Covenant” conflicting with several of JN’s positions: rejected affiliation with ‘foreign entities’, welcomed cooperation with external states, avoided overt Islamist language. Several observers including Human Rights Watch, French FM Fabius accused regime of employing chlorine gas in multiple attacks over past months. UN Syria envoy Brahimi resigned 13 May. Russia, China 22 May vetoed UNSC resolution referring Syrian conflict to ICC.

Lebanon

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

President Suleiman’s term ended 25 May following repeated failure of parliamentarians to elect successor; March 14 coalition threatened boycott of parliament in absence of new president, ministers attended cabinet session 30 May seeking agreement on rules governing presidential vacuum. Army’s “security plan” continued to contain rising levels of violence, several militants arrested or surrendered throughout month. Thousands demonstrated against worsening economic outlook 14 May. Several wounded in clashes between rival Palestinian groups 12 May in refugee camp in Sidon.

Lebanon

  |  1 May 2014

Improved

Army 1 April started implementing “security plan” brokered by political factions to counter worsening violence, particularly in Tripoli and on Syrian border: set up checkpoints and patrols in tense areas, raided homes of militiamen, seized weapons, arrested several suspects. Reports indicated plan successful in calming violence despite some attacks including: gunmen 8 April shot dead 2 soldiers east of Tripoli; 1 killed in NE 2 April by rocket fire from Syria, claimed by Sunni militants targeting Hizbollah. Complaints against security plan as political elites allegedly protected favoured militiamen; some Sunnis demonstrated against army deployments claiming Sunni communities disproportionately targeted. Concerns also raised about fragility of political truce underpinning plan, failure to address deeper problems including socio-economic grievances, sectarian divisions, issues of political representation. At least 8 reported killed 7 April in fighting between rival Palestinian factions in refugee camp near Sidon. UN reported number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon passed 1 million.

Egypt

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Former Defence Minister Abdelfattah el-Sisi and Nasserist Hamdeen Sabbahi only 2 candidates to register for 26-27 May presidential election by 20 April nomination deadline. Court 15 April banned Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members from running in any elections. Sabbahi campaign warned against use of state resources and media in favour of Sisi, complained of assaults on campaigners and arrests on false grounds. EU foreign policy chief Ashton visited Cairo 10 April, formally announced EU election monitoring mission, reportedly called Sisi’s decision to run “courageous”; no meeting with MB representatives, who criticised visit. Attacks on security forces continued with militant group Ajnad Misr claiming several bomb attacks: 2 killed outside Cairo University 2 April, including police brigadier-general; 1 police killed in Cairo 18 April; 2 police shot dead 20 April between Cairo and Suez. Several killed by govt forces, including in separate incidents 11 April: pro-MB demonstrator shot dead in Alexandria, 2 MB members reported killed in Nile Delta shoot-out, prominent Ansar Beit al-Maqdis militant killed in Sinai according to military officials. At least 25 killed early April in clashes between rival clans in Aswan. Court 28 April sentenced 683 defendants to death, including MB leader Mohamed Badie; another court banned April 6 Movement. Govt announced price increase for subsidised fuel, electricity, water, imposed ban on high-power air-conditioning units ahead of expected summer energy crisis.

Syria

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Projecting increasing political and military confidence, regime announced presidential election for 3 June, paving way for re-election of President Assad and suggesting diminishing opportunities for compromise to end conflict following failure of Geneva II talks. Assad announced his candidacy 28 April. Regime renewed campaign to seize rebel-held areas of Homs amid steady trickle of rebel surrenders from city’s old quarter; other rebels fought back with numerous deadly car bombings, including at least 100 killed 29 April in twin suicide attack claimed by al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Regime continued Qalamoun offensive near Lebanese border seizing several towns, including Rankus and Maalula. Despite regime success in some areas, rebels held recently-captured ground in Latakia province; fought to stalemate in Aleppo; late-month advanced in Daraa province in south. Regime airstrikes and barrel bombings of Aleppo continued with scores of casualties, including at least 29 killed in single neighbourhood 20 April according to SOHR. Rebel infighting continued in east: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) 10 April launched attack on Albu Kamal town on Iraqi border; SOHR reported 86 killed in fighting, ISIL’s assault rebuffed by rival rebels. UN mission 24 April said 92.5% of all declared chemical weapons (CW) removed from or destroyed in country; will investigate allegations of renewed CW use involving chlorine gas. Humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate: World Food Programme announced food deliveries reduced due to shortage of funds, less than half of $2.3bn pledged at Jan donor conference delivered; UNSG Ban accused all parties to civil war of blocking aid deliveries, violating international law.

Syria

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Following Feb breakdown of Geneva II negotiations seeking political resolution to conflict, regime intensified push to secure control over areas bordering Lebanon, part of long-running Qalamoun offensive: with backing of Lebanese Hizbollah seized city of Yabroud 16 March, largest remaining rebel bastion in area; 19 March took village SW of Yabroud, 29 March seized another 2 villages near border. Many rebels fled across border to Lebanon; regime forces 21 March claimed to have killed at least 93 fleeing takeover of Crac des Chevaliers. Rebels meanwhile announced offensive in Latakia province in NW: dozens killed in fighting as rebels captured Kaseb town and border crossing with Turkey; Hial al-Assad, cousin of President Assad and pro-regime militia leader, killed 23 March. Rebels 19 March took prison outside southern city Daraa. Fighting between rebel groups continued: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) rejected demands for mediation by al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra; mid-month withdrew eastwards, pulling out of Idlib and Latakia provinces, concentrating fighters in eastern Aleppo, Raqqa. More than 50 rebels reported killed after ISIL seized town in Hasakah province in NE 30 March. Govt 15 March missed UN-imposed deadline for destroying chemical weapons (CW) production facilities; UN mission overseeing CW removal 20 March said 53.6% of CW removed from or destroyed in Syria. Turkish air force 23 March shot down Syrian plane, saying it crossed into Turkish territory; regime denied crossing border, said Turkey complacent in “terrorism”. Following Feb UNSC resolution to increase aid access, UN aid trucks 20 March entered Syria from Turkey for first time in 3 years; aid entered through regime-held crossing near Qamishli, will be distributed through partners approved by Damascus. Regime continued siege and starvation tactics around Damascus, temporarily resuming siege of Palestinian neighbourhood Yarmouk early March.

Egypt

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Field Marshal Abdelfattah el-Sisi resigned as defence minister 26 March in order to run in May presidential election; candidate registration open 30 March-20 April. Interim President Mansour 8 March decreed controversial new election law protecting decisions of election commission from legal challenges, refused to amend it after some parties protested on grounds that doing so could lengthen electoral process. Previously announced contender Sami Anan withdrew from presidential race; second runner-up in 2012 presidential election General Ahmed Shafik in leaked recording said election bound to be rigged in favour of Sisi, in subsequent public statement backed Sisi; another former candidate, human rights lawyer Khaled Ali, announced he would not run, called election “farce”. New govt formed 1 March by PM Ibrahim Mehleb, member of pre-2011 ruling party; departure of outgoing PM Biblawi and Deputy PM Ziad Bahaa Eddin, who represented liberals in anti-Muslim Brotherhood (MB) alliance, seen by observers as further reducing prospect of reconciliation with MB. Court 24 March sentenced 529 Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members to death for murder and other offences, sparking domestic and international condemnation; sentence to be appealed. Several police and army officers killed during month, including 6 officers by gunmen at checkpoint near Cairo 15 March; army blamed MB, MB denied. 2 senior army officers, 6 militants killed 19 March in Nile Delta region during army raid on jihadi group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. Clashes continued between MB supporters and police across country, several casualties: MB-led National Alliance to Support Legitimacy called for 11 days of protests starting on 19 March anniversary of 2011 constitutional referendum, 2 killed in clashes same day; 5 killed in Cairo 29 March during protests against Sisi presidential bid.

Lebanon

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Continued spillover from Syrian conflict as Syria’s Assad regime intensified fight with Syrian rebels along Lebanese border. Rebel defeat in Syrian town Yabroud 16 March saw refugees and fighters fleeing to Lebanese city Arsal. Hizbollah and local residents blocked roads around city prompting protests, road blockings and tyre burnings by Sunni militants elsewhere in Lebanon. Arsal and other Bekaa Valley areas targeted by Syrian regime airstrikes throughout month. Dozens killed in Tripoli during fighting starting 13 March between supporters of rival parties to Syrian conflict; fighting later spread to Beirut, 1 killed in clashes 23 March. Sunni jihadis continued rocket attacks, car bombings inside Lebanon in retaliation for Hizbollah’s involvement in Syria: 2 killed in suicide bombing in Bekaa Valley 16 March, claimed by Jabhat al-Nusra. 3 soldiers killed 29 March in suicide bombing at army checkpoint in Arsal; 2 civilians killed hours later by soldiers at another checkpoint. Israel held Hizbollah responsible for 14 March bomb targeting Israeli patrol on border, retaliated against group’s positions (see Israel-Palestine). New govt 20 March won confidence vote in parliament.

Lebanon

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

New govt formed 15 Feb following 10 months of talks; cabinet split equally between Hizbollah-dominated March 8 coalition, rival March 14 coalition, and ministers appointed by President Suleiman. Sunni jihadis continued suicide bombing campaign in retaliation for Hizbollah and Iranian involvement in Syria; Jabhat al-Nusra claimed 1 Feb attack in eastern Hermel which killed 4, and 22 Feb attack in same town killing 3 including 2 soldiers. Abdullah Azzam (AAB) brigades claimed 19 Feb twin attack outside Iranian cultural centre in Beirut killing 8. March 14 coalition head Saad Hariri 15 Feb urged Hizbollah to end involvement in Syria to avoid “sectarian holocaust”. Gunmen 20 Feb killed senior leader of Arab Democratic Party which favours Syria’s President al-Assad in Tripoli. Lebanese army arrested 2 suspected AAB leaders, uncovered booby-trapped cars in Beirut and Arsal near Syrian border. In latest Israeli targeting of Hizbollah weapons shipment, airstrikes 24 Feb hit Hizbollah position near eastern border with Syria, Hizbollah vowed retaliation.

Egypt

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

Following late-Jan escalation of conflict in Sinai army struck several targets, jihadi group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM) continued attacks. Army raids and airstrikes killed dozens throughout month, officials claimed senior ABM members among dead. ABM bombing 16 Feb killed 3 S Korean tourists, 1 bus driver near Israeli border. Attacks in and around Cairo continued including 7 Feb bombing near Giza police station injuring 6, claimed by new militant group Ajnad Misr. Several killed in drive-by shootings targeting police. Military-backed govt 24 Feb announced resignation in move expected to pave way for Field Marshal Abdelfattah el-Sisi to announce presidential run; candidacy requires Sisi to step down as defence minister, exiting Housing Minister Ibrahim Melheb tasked with forming new govt. 2 presidential contenders announced: former armed forces chief of staff Sami Enan, neo-Nasserist and 3rd runner-up in 2012 presidential election Hamdeen Sabahi. 4th runner-up in 2012 election Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh 9 Feb announced boycott; described polls as “mockery”. Sisi’s expected candidacy received endorsements from former President Mubarak, Russian President Putin. Sisi, FM Fahmy visited Russia 12 Feb, reportedly to discuss arms deal. Prosecutor general 4 Feb referred nearly 200 to trial including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohammed Badie, other senior members: more than 500 Morsi supporters referred to trial 24 Feb, 220 sentenced to up to 7 years’ jail next day.

Syria

  |  1 Mar 2014

Deteriorated

Second round of Geneva II talks 10-15 Feb failed to generate meaningful discussion on political resolution to conflict or improve humanitarian conditions; govt delegation refused to discuss opposition’s transition plan, emphasising instead need to fight “terrorism”. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) NGO said more killed every day since beginning of talks than any other time during civil war. U.S., Saudi Arabia reportedly reacted to diplomatic breakdown by planning increase of weapons supplies to rebels in south who reorganised into Southern Front, 18 Feb announced spring offensive. Exiled opposition group Syrian National Coalition’s 16 Feb attempt to replace General Selim Idriss as leader of organisation’s military arm rebuffed by regional commanders inside Syria. UNSC 22 Feb adopted resolution to increase aid access to and within Syria, threatening to consider “further steps” in case of non-compliance. Around 1,400 evacuated from besieged old city of Homs beginning 7 Feb following UN-mediated agreement; several hundred males detained and interrogated by govt forces, 91 still held 27 Feb according to governor, at least 11 killed during evacuation by mortar, sniper fire. Rebel infighting continued with jihadi group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) conducting assassination campaign against senior leaders of Islamic Front-affiliated groups: 1 Feb killed leaders of Liwa al-Tawhid, Suqour as-Sham in separate suicide bombings; 23 Feb killed senior Ahrar as-Sham commander appointed by al-Qaeda to mediate inter-jihadi conflict. 3 Feb statement by al-Qaeda general command said no organisational links to ISIL, no responsibility for group’s actions. Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra gave ISIL 1 March deadline for accepting mediation or face expulsion from Syria, Iraq. SOHR 27 Feb estimated 3,300 killed in rebel infighting since early Jan. Govt forces gained ground on Aleppo’s NE outskirts taking advantage of rebel infighting; indiscriminate “barrel” bombing campaign continued with hundreds killed. Govt 5 Feb missed UN-endorsed deadline for handing over all chemical weapons stockpiles, accepted new 27 April deadline.

Egypt

  |  1 Feb 2014

Deteriorated

Official results of 14-15 Jan referendum on amended constitution indicate over 98% in favour, turnout almost 39%. Outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Islamist Alliance for Support of Legitimacy (ASL) campaigned for boycott; Strong Egypt Party campaigned for “no”, some members arrested. Monitoring NGOs reported violations during two-day voting period, influencing voters and voting registration errors. Interim President Adli Mansour 26 Jan announced presidential elections to take place within 3 months, before parliamentary elections. Supreme Council of the Armed Forces 27 Jan approved defence minister Abdelfattah el-Sisi to run for presidency, after President Mansour promoted him from colonel-general to field marshal. Clashes between supporters of ousted President Morsi and security forces increased ahead of and during referendum; 17 killed and 60 injured 3 Jan, 3 killed 10 Jan, 11 killed 14 Jan. Deadly clashes between protesters and security forces continued after referendum, with at least 49 killed in worst incident 25 Jan, anniversary of 2011 uprising. Several bomb attacks in Cairo including 3 attacks 24 Jan killing at least 5, injuring 60. Gunmen shot dead senior interior ministry official in Cairo 28 Jan. Multiple attacks continued in Sinai Peninsula, including first-ever use of surface-to-air missile by militants 27 Jan to bring down military helicopter, killing 4; Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group claimed responsibility. Arrests of MB supporters continued, including 444 arrested 15 Jan on charges of rioting and weapons possession, 63 jailed 9 Jan. U.S. Sec State Kerry 18 Jan expressed concern about limits of freedom of assembly and expression. MB lawyers 6 Jan petitioned ICC to investigate alleged crimes against humanity by military govt since July 2013. Amnesty International 23 Jan reported human rights violations and state violence on “unprecedented scale” since July 2013.

Syria

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

First round of long-awaited Geneva II talks produced no agreement on confidence-building measures or allowing aid to besieged areas in Homs, no progress in discussing solution to conflict; next round scheduled for 10 Feb. Opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) agreed to participate, though increasingly in disarray ahead of talks; less than half members 18 Jan voted to attend, over third withdrew from session. Talks began 22 Jan with Syrian govt delegation rejecting SNC demands for President Assad’s removal from power and creation of transitional govt; Assad 19 Jan said “significant” chance he will seek new term in summer 2014 election. In lead-up to talks govt escalated systematic starvation and barrel bombings of rebel-held areas, killing scores. On rebel side clashes between Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other groups intensified after Islamic Front (IF) 1 Jan accused ISIL of killing popular rebel commander and being worse than Assad regime. Opponents of ISIL gained control of most of Idlib province and towns west of Aleppo city; ISIL consolidated presence east of Aleppo and in Raqqa province; fierce fighting continues for control of towns between Aleppo and Turkish border. ISIL 27 Jan rejected reconciliation initiative endorsed by other rebel groups. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 23 Jan estimated nearly 1,400 killed in rebel infighting since beginning of month; UN received reports of “mass executions”. Syria 1 Jan missed UN-endorsed deadline for transfer of “priority chemicals” under Sept resolution, first batch shipped out 7 Jan; only 4.1% reportedly shipped out by end Jan, UNSG Ban 28 Jan called delays unnecessary, U.S. 30 Jan warned Syrian efforts had “seriously languished”. Govt 8 Jan reported 2 rebel attacks on chemical sites, first such report. Unconfirmed reports Israeli air force 26 Jan bombed base in Latakia. U.S. 27 Jan announced resuming deliveries of non-lethal aid to non-armed opposition groups, suspended Dec; Reuters reported U.S. had already resumed delivery via Jordan of light and anti-tank weapons to “moderate” rebel groups in S Syria.

Lebanon

  |  1 Feb 2014

Deteriorated

Month saw escalation in targeting of Shia neighbourhoods with attacks by radical Sunni groups in retaliation for Hizbollah’s military involvement in Syria. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed car-bombing in S Beirut 2 Jan killing 5; Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) claimed 21 Jan bombing in same neighbourhood killing 4, also 16 Jan bombing in eastern Hermel killing 4, 25 Jan rocket attack jointly with fellow al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB), no casualties. Head of AAB died in military custody 4 Jan reportedly of kidney failure. Further clashes in Tripoli between supporters of rival Syrian groups, 5 killed by sniper fire 21 Jan. Rocket fire on Arsal near Syrian border 17 Jan, 7 killed. Amid continued political deadlock over formation of new cabinet, trial over 2005 killing of former PM Rafik Hariri began in The Hague; Hariri’s son Saad Hariri, currently in The Hague attending trial, vowed to return to Lebanon for Nov elections.

Syria

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

Rebel forces in disarray as increasingly powerful Islamist groups moved to marginalise Western-backed militias: largest rebel alliance Islamic Front (IF), created late Nov, 3 Dec rejected authority of Supreme Military Council (SMC), 7 Dec seized SMC arms depots and HQ in Babisqa, 11 Dec captured SMC-controlled Turkey border crossing near Bab el-Hawa; U.S. and UK 11 Dec suspended non-lethal aid to SMC out of fear it could no longer protect equipment provided to it. U.S. Sec State Kerry 17 Dec said U.S. negotiations with IF “possible” to convince its militias to join 22 Jan Geneva II peace talks, IF rejected offer. Following recent losses against Kurdish militias, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) 5 Dec kidnapped over 50 Kurdish civilians from Minbej and Jarablus towns near Aleppo. Month saw most significant clashes yet between ISIS and Ahrar al-Sham Islamist group. Syrian army and allied militias continued advances in Qalamoun mountains amid rebel disorder: 9 Dec regained control of key Damascus-Homs highway after capture of Nabak, 10 Dec started offensive towards Yabrud, last rebel stronghold in Qalamoun region. IF, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra 11 Dec attacked town of Adra, near Damascus; ISIS beheaded at least 3 Alawites there, pro-regime media accused rebels of killing dozens of Alawite and Druze civilians. Syrian army and allied militias recaptured parts of town 13-16 Dec. Regime’s recent momentum on Aleppo front appearing to lag; army 15 Dec dropped “barrel bombs” on Aleppo, hundreds reported killed; Aleppo activists called scale of raids “unprecedented”. Syrian govt 4 Dec said Assad will lead any transition agreed at Jan Geneva peace talks; opposition National Coalition remains divided on whether to attend talks, to meet early Jan to make final decision. UN rights chief Pillay 2 Dec said “massive evidence” implicates regime in war crimes and crimes against humanity, UN humanitarian chief Amos 3 Dec said govt should allow greater access to trapped civilians.

Egypt

  |  2 Jan 2014

Deteriorated

Govt 25 Dec formally declared Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a terrorist group, made MB membership and participation in anti-coup protests a crime; move effectively rules out possibility of reconciliation with MB, further complicating political scene. Declaration followed bomb explosion at govt building in Mansura 24 Dec in which at least 12 killed, scores injured; govt blamed MB despite lack of evidence of its involvement. Political transition roadmap moved ahead as constitutional committee 1 Dec finalised controversial draft constitution. Committee president 15 Dec said draft gives unprecedented rights to women and removes religious clauses included in Dec 2012 constitution. MB 2 Dec and Islamist Alliance for the Support of Legitimacy (ASL) rejected draft. April 6 Movement criticised draft over powers granted to military and defence minister, inclusion of military trials for civilians; Coptic church, Salafi Nour Party and Tamarrod movement voiced support for draft. Interim President Mansour 14 Dec said referendum on draft constitution scheduled 14-15 Jan; April 6 movement and ASL announced boycott. Secret talks between authorities and ASL faltered. Govt 18 Dec charged ousted President Morsi with treason, espionage, sponsoring terrorism, collaborating with Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas. Sweeping arrests against Islamists continued; govt crackdown on dissidents expanding to include rights groups, secular political activists. Anti-govt protests ongoing on near-daily basis, several killed in clashes with police late-month. Police 8 Dec staged rare protest demanding higher wages, defying new protest law. Militant attacks continued: in Ismailia suspected Islamists shot dead policeman 17 Dec, car bombs exploded 12 Dec killing 1 policeman; car bomb in Cairo 17 Dec; suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated militants shot dead soldier during clashes in Sinai Peninsula 20 Dec. 5 injured in Cairo bomb attack 26 Dec. Army 17 Dec shot dead alleged Islamist militant Abou Khaled wanted for Aug 2012 terror attack in Sinai Peninsula.

Lebanon

  |  2 Jan 2014

Deteriorated

Car bomb in Beirut 27 Dec killed senior “March 14” figure and former finance minister Mohammad Chatah and 7 others: March 14 alliance accused Syrian regime and Hizbollah, both denied. Assassination derailed cabinet formation process: March 14 alliance 28 Dec rejected unity govt, called for cabinet excluding Hizbollah. 13 killed, dozens wounded in sectarian clashes between Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh and Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighbourhoods of Tripoli 30 Nov-2 Dec; govt ordered army to preserve security in city. Lebanese troops fired at Syrian military aircraft violating its airspace in Bekaa Valley 30 Dec. Saudi Arabia 29 Dec granted Lebanese army $3bn. President Suleiman 7 Dec again called on Hizbollah to withdraw from Syria, abide by Baabda declaration. Prominent Hizbollah commander Ali Bazzi and 3 militants killed in firefight with Syrian rebels near Nabuk on Syrian Qalamoun front 8 Dec. Gunmen 4 Dec assassinated Hizbollah commander Hassan al-Laqis in Hadath. Armed men and suicide bomber 15 Dec attacked 2 army checkpoints in Sidon, killing 1 soldier; army detained 5 suspects, claimed men part of al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Unidentified militants 29 Dec fired 5 rockets from Hasbaya toward Israel, 2 exploded near Kiryat Shmona; Israel blamed Hizbollah, shelled Rachaya border area in retaliation, no injuries reported. Lebanese sniper 16 Dec killed Israeli soldier on border, army said soldier acted alone (see Israel/Palestine). Residents of Qsar Naba village near Syria 2 Dec torched ad hoc Syrian refugee camp, forced hundreds of refugees from campsite. Authorities arrested head of group that claimed Nov Iranian embassy bombing.

Egypt

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

Court 4 Nov postponed trial of deposed President Mohammed Morsi and 14 co-defendants until 8 Jan; appeals court 11 Nov extended Morsi’s detention for 30 days. Appeals court 6 Nov rejected legal challenge by MB against Sept ruling that banned group’s activities and seized its funds; MB 7 Nov said it will survive despite ban and media “campaign of slander”. “Alliance for the Support of Legitimacy” (ASL) coalition of Islamists 16 Nov called for dialogue to end crisis on condition that govt halt security crackdown, did not call for Morsi reinstatement; govt did not officially respond but made clear acceptance of roadmap a precondition. FM Fahmy 8 Nov said Egypt will hold parliamentary elections “between Feb and March” 2014, followed by presidential vote. Constitutional committee 30 Nov passed first 138 articles of draft constitution; PM Beblawy 25 Nov suggested referendum on new constitution would take place “second half of Jan 2014”. Govt 23 Nov withdrew ambassador from Turkey, expelled Turkish ambassador after Turkish PM Erdoğan reiterated condemnation of 3 July coup. Mass protests and arrests continued on near-daily basis: large demonstrations 19 Nov commemorated 2011 clashes with security forces in Cairo; 2 killed by police in subsequent clashes. Govt 11 Nov ended 3-month state of emergency, 23 Nov introduced “protest law” requiring advance govt approval of all demonstrations; Human Rights Watch says law will “ban protests” in Egypt, UNSG Ban 27 Nov expressed concern over law, violent dispersal of protests. Army 20 Nov vowed to continue war on “terrorism” after series of attacks: unclaimed suicide car bomb 20 Nov targeted bus transporting soldiers in N Sinai killed 11 soldiers and injured dozens; Sinai-based Islamist militants 17 Nov assassinated officer, 21 Nov killed officer during firefight in Qalubiya; unidentified gunmen 3 Nov killed 2 policemen at checkpoint on Cairo-Ismailia road.

Syria

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

Major military offensives outside Aleppo and Damascus saw govt forces secure supply lines and push back rebels. Govt 1-15 Nov seized Safira, Tel Arn and Tel Hasel towns along Aleppo-Homs supply road and military base near Aleppo airport. Pro-govt forces 7 Nov captured Sbeineh, large rebel enclave S of Damascus; 15 Nov started offensive along Lebanese border in Qalamoun mountains to disrupt rebel supply routes, capturing Qara village 19 Nov, Deir Attiya village 29 Nov. Amid increased disarray among rebel forces divided over brutality and growing influence of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in north, 7 mainstream Islamist rebel groups seeking to counter ISIS 22 Nov agreed to merge into “Islamic Front”. Commander of powerful Liwa al-Tawhid brigade killed in airstrike 18 Nov. Syrian Kurdish militias continued campaign against ISIS and al-Nusra rebels: Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) and militia of Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) 4 Nov gained control from rebels over 19 towns and villages in NE. PYD 14 Nov unilaterally declared Syrian Kurdish self-rule over conquered territory, sparking widespread criticism: opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) 14 Nov said PYD “hostile” to Syrian revolution, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Govt President Masoud Barzani accused PYD of “autocracy”. UNSG Ban 25 Nov said Geneva II peace talks to be held 22 Jan. SNC 11 Nov agreed to attend talks with preconditions: govt must create humanitarian corridors and release detainees, Assad to play “no role” in transitional period. Govt 27 Nov said it will attend Geneva talks, but not negotiate handover of power.

Lebanon

  |  1 Dec 2013

Deteriorated

Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigade claimed 19 Nov suicide bomb outside Iranian embassy in Beirut, aiming to force “Iran’s Hezbollah [to] withdraw from Syria”; 26 killed including Iranian official, 146 injured. Attacks against Alawites continued to multiply in Tripoli, including 2 Nov when Sunni gunmen beat and shot passengers on bus transporting Alawite workers through Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh neighbourhood, wounding 9. Clashes between security forces and gunmen from Bab al-Tebbaneh and Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighbourhoods 30 Nov left 6 dead, Sectarian tensions inflamed after Internal Security Forces (ISF) 4 Nov issued search warrant for Alawite Arab Democratic Party (ADP) members, including General Secretary Ali Eid, charged with helping suspect in Aug Tripoli bombings escape to Syria. Syrian Army 5 Nov stationed troops near Lebanese border close to Eid’s house, allegedly to deter his arrest; ADP leader Rifaat Eid 4 Nov said arrest could trigger civil war, ISF “legitimate” target. Unidentified gunmen 12 Nov killed pro-Syrian Islamic Labor Front member Saad Ghieh in Tripoli. 12,000 Syrian refugees fled into Beqaa Valley border villages 15-19 Nov to escape new offensive by Syrian govt and Hezbollah along border. Syrian army 14 and 19 Nov fired rockets into Arsal in Beqaa Valley, no injuries reported. Hezbollah involvement in Syrian conflict proving major obstacle in attempts at cabinet formation: Future Bloc (FB) leader MP Fouad Siniora 13 Nov said FB would only accept formation of political cabinet if “Hezbollah returns from Syria” or a technocratic cabinet is formed; Hezbollah chief Nasrallah 14 Nov called withdrawal from Syria “impossible condition”.

Egypt

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Political transition roadmap moved forward as constitutional committee 22 Oct began final negotiations, amid continued exclusion of most Islamist political forces from process, heavy casualties at almost daily pro-Muslim Brotherhood (MB) rallies. Security forces 6 Oct killed dozens, arrested over 400 MB supporters in clashes across Egypt; 53 people killed, 271 wounded. Leaked audio files from interview with defence minister General al-Sisi 16 Oct revealed he may run for president. Former president Morsi to stand trial 4 Nov on charges of espionage for Hamas and prison escape during 2011 revolution; MB 2 Oct said will not backtrack on its demand for Morsi reinstatement as president. Political violence continued to escalate with army operations in restless Sinai Peninsula as unclaimed attacks on govt targets increased, fuelling fears of Islamist insurgency. Unidentified gunmen 4 Oct killed 2 soldiers in attack on army convoy east of Cairo, 7 Oct killed 6 soldiers in Ismailia and fired grenades at satellite station in Cairo, 28 Oct killed 3 policemen at university in Mansoura. U.S. 10 Oct suspended delivery of military hardware to Egyptian army in response to crackdown on MB, said “credible progress” needed towards fair elections; continued economic assistance, support for counter-terrorism operations and Egyptian-Israeli border security.

Syria

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) 6 Oct began destruction of Syria's chemical weapons (CW) arsenal, 31 Oct stated Syria had destroyed all of its declared CW production/mixing facilities, meeting 1 Nov deadline. U.S. Sec State Kerry and Russian FM Lavrov 7 Oct agreed to press UN to set date for Geneva II peace conference in Nov; Arab League (AL) chief Nabil el-Araby 20 Oct said talks will begin 23 Nov, but UN/AL Special Envoy Brahimi 20 Oct said talks unlikely in absence of “credible” opposition. “Friends of Syria” grouping 22 Oct urged opposition Syrian National Coalition (NC) to participate in Geneva II, called for transitional govt; NC to vote 1 Nov on participation, but largest member Syrian National Council 13 Oct said it will not negotiate before fall of Assad regime, will not attend Geneva II, will quit NC if it participates. Militant groups rejecting Geneva talks, highly critical of prospect of political opposition’s participation. Islamist opposition militia Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continued expansion in N and E Syria: ISIL fighters 2 Oct fought rebel militia Northern Storm in Azaz; coalition of militant rebel groups 3 Oct called for immediate ceasefire. ISIL 27 Oct lost Yaaroubiyeh border crossing to Syrian Kurdish militiamen linked to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) 27 Oct. Syrian army, Hizbollah, and Iraqi Shiite militia forces reclaimed key strategic areas and corridors: 3 Oct retook northern town Khanasser from rebels, 7 Oct reopened crucial supply road linking govt-held central area with Aleppo, 9 Oct retook Sheikh Omar suburb of Damascus. 6 ICRC workers and 1 Syrian Red Crescent employee kidnapped 13 Oct by unidentified gunmen in Idlib, 4 released 14 Oct. WHO 29 Oct reported outbreak of polio in Deir al-Zour province.

Lebanon

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Military court 16 Oct charged 7 members of pro-Syrian President Assad Alawite Arab Democracy Party over 23 Aug bombings of Sunni mosques in Tripoli that killed 47, claimed defendants instructed by Syrian intelligence services. Charges triggered renewed clashes between Tripoli’s Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh and Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighbourhoods 16 Oct: violence quickly contained, but reignited 23 Oct after televised interview with Assad, leaving 16 dead, 80 wounded; army deployed to restore order 28 Oct, 1 soldier killed. During interview Assad criticised Lebanese govt for allowing “terrorists” to enter Syria; President Suleiman responded saying Lebanon will continue “disassociation policy” with Syrian conflict. Lebanese Sunni militant Omar Atrash, main suspect in 9 July and 15 Aug Dahiya bombings, killed in ambush in Nehmat, Syria 11 Oct. 8 Syrian rockets hit Lebanese city Hermel in Bekaa valley 21 Oct, 5 rockets hit Wadi Rafi area 22 Oct. Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) 14 Oct issued public arrest warrant for Hassan Merhi, alleged Hizbollah “supporter” and 5th suspect in 2005 assassination of PM Rafiq Hariri. Political deadlock between March 14 and Hizbollah-led March 8 alliance over cabinet formation continued as March 14 rejected March 8 cabinet proposal granting 9 seats to each camp and 6 seats to centrists.

Lebanon

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

Army and police deployed in Hizbollah-controlled southern suburb of Beirut 23 Sept to take over security from Hizbollah militants at checkpoints. Clashes in Tripoli mid-month injured 7, killed 1 amid continued tensions between Alawite and Sunni residents. 5 people killed in clash in Hizbollah stronghold Baalbek in East 28 Sept, security forces deployed to restore calm; followed clash 25 Sept in which several wounded. Several rockets from Syria fell in East mid-Sept wounding 2. European Commission 12 Sept pledged further $77mn to Lebanon to help cope with Syrian refugee influx, now reported to number 759,932 in Lebanon alone. Political deadlock still unresolved: caretaker PM Najib Mikati, MPs from Future Movement and its March 14 allies, and Free Patriotic Movement 23 Sept boycotted parliament session for 5th time, prompting Parliament speaker Berri to postpone it once again.

Egypt

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

Govt continued crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members and pro-Morsi Islamists with several arrests, closure of more media outlets and 23 Sept court decision banning all MB activities. Security forces 16, 19 Sept stormed towns of Delga and Kerdasa, retaking Islamist strongholds. EU envoy continuing international efforts to mediate between govt and MB. Experts committee, headed by former presidential candidate Amr Moussa and including only 2 Islamists out of its 50 members, 7 Sept started reviewing constitution draft prepared by technical committee of legal scholars. Constitution to be put to referendum by end-Nov, followed by parliamentary and presidential elections. Amid calls for defence minister and regime strongman General al-Sisi to run for president, army spokesman 22 Sept reaffirmed military does not intend to nominate candidate. Uptick in anti-state violence, most notably in Sinai where suicide bomb 11 Sept killed over 100 soldiers, levelled military intelligence HQ near Rafah. Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim survived car bomb attack on his convoy in Cairo 5 Sept, 4 bystanders killed; previously-unknown Sinai-based jihadi group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for this and other attacks during month. Increasing use of IEDs reported, ship crossing Suez Canal targeted by RPGs. Military launched large-scale offensive in E Sinai 7 Sept, reported it killed 30 militants in assault on 12 villages; publicly blamed Hamas for allowing Egyptian and Palestinian extremists to use tunnels under Gaza border. Gunmen 30 Sept reportedly killed 3 policemen, one soldier in N Sinai.

Syria

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

UN Security Council 27 Sept unanimously passed resolution calling for Syria to destroy chemical weapons (CW) production facilities by Nov and dismantle CW stockpile by mid-2014, and allow full access to inspectors. In case of non-compliance another resolution needed to authorise punitive measures including military force. UNSG Ban called v ote “historic”, announced tentative date for new peace conference in Geneva mid-Nov. President Assad 29 Sept said Syria would abide by resolution. Resolution followed extensive diplomacy between U.S and Russia in wake of 21 Aug CW attack near Damascus. U.S. President Obama 9 Sept delayed U.S. Congress vote authorising military action after Russia proposed placing Syria CW under international control, leading to 14 Sept U.S.-Russia agreement serving as basis for UNSC resolution. UN investigation team 16 Sept released report on Aug Ghouta chemical attack confirming sarin gas was used, conclusions suggest attack launched from regime stronghold. Moscow said investigation biased, received new evidence from Damascus of rebel culpability for attack. UN team inspecting further CW attacks, 3 of which allegedly took place after 21 Aug attack. Regime re-escalated campaign to drive rebels from remaining strongholds in Damascus outskirts. Infighting between rebel factions continued, including clashes in north between al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel groups and Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups; fragile truce between FSA and al-Qaeda branch Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) 20 Sept after ISIL captured Azaz town. ISIL mid-Sept killed aid worker affiliated with Salafi group Ahrar al-Sham, prompting criticism from prominent Salafi militants. Syrian National Coalition (NC) pushing to establish provisional govt, 14 Sept elected new interim PM to form 13-minister interim cabinet; 19 Sept reaffirmed willingness to attend Geneva peace talks if goal is establishing transitional govt. Turkish army 16 Sept shot Syrian helicopter violating its airspace.

Lebanon

  |  1 Sep 2013

Deteriorated

Sectarian clashes reignited in Tripoli where gunmen 22 Aug killed 3 including Hizbollah supporter; at least 42 people killed, hundreds wounded 23 Aug in 2 explosions in Tripoli; no claim of responsibility; 5 suspects, including 3 members of pro-Syrian regime party, arrested. Explosion in Hizbollah-controlled southern suburb of Beirut 15 Aug killed at least 27, biggest bomb since 2005 killing of PM Hariri; small Syrian rebel group claimed responsibility. March 14 coalition blamed Hizbollah’s intervention in Syria for provoking retaliation; Hizbollah leader Nasrallah promised his organisation would double its fighters in Syria with each such attack. Security agencies reportedly uncovered further bombing cells, while Hizbollah set up checkpoints to protect Shia-majority neighbourhoods under its control. Airstrikes from Syria continued; 9 killed, 9 injured in 3 Aug airstrike on Arsal. 4 Israeli soldiers who had crossed border into Lebanon wounded in 7 Aug attack; Hizbollah claimed responsibility. 4 rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel 22 Aug causing damage but no casualties; Israel 23 Aug retaliated bombing “terror site” near Na’ameh (see Israel-Palestine). Political deadlock continued as Future Movement continues to insist on “neutral” cabinet while Hizbollah demands “national unity” govt composed of representatives from all sides.

Egypt

  |  1 Sep 2013

Deteriorated

Violence by security forces against supporters of former president Morsi continued; daily pro-Morsi protests and sit-ins culminated in 14 Aug army crackdown on Morsi supporters in Nahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya squares in Cairo, some 500 reportedly killed and many injured; army declared curfew and state of emergency. Morsi supporters staged further protests 30 Aug; at least 6 reported killed in clashes with police. Cycle of violence that began 14 Aug believed to have claimed over 1,000 lives. Army continued arrests of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leaders, including MB supreme guide Mohammed Badie on charges of inciting violence; govt 17 Aug announced it is engaged in “war on terror”, considered dissolving MB, however Interim PM Beblawi 27 Aug said would instead monitor group. Interim govt continued transition plan with drafting of several constitutional amendments behind closed doors. Govt mid-Aug closed Islamist TV channels, arrested journalists critical of new govt. Judiciary 12 Aug extended Morsi’s detention. Prominent opposition figure Mohammed ElBaradei 14 Aug resigned post in new govt as VP for International Affairs in protest at army crackdown. Retribution killings against army and police officers increased in major cities including Giza, Ismailia and Alexandria; pro-Morsi militants 14, 16 Aug reportedly attacked several churches, prompting Coptic Church to declare support for army, police. Ousted President Mubarak released from prison 21 Aug, put under house arrest. Egypt increasingly isolated internationally as army repression widely condemned; EU 21 Aug restricted arms sales to Egypt, will review aid. Violence in Sinai continued, militants 19 Aug killed at least 25 Egyptian soldiers in the border city of Rafah.

Syria

  |  1 Sep 2013

Deteriorated

Over 1,300 killed and many injured in reported chemical attack 21 Aug near Damascus, prompting urgent UNSC meeting and calls for investigation. Amid accusations it was behind attack, Assad regime denied responsibility. Attack condemned internationally; Western states discussed possibility of armed intervention: U.S. Sec State Kerry 26 Aug accused regime of “indiscriminate slaughter of civilians”, said evidence of chemical weapons use “undeniable” and warned U.S. would hold regime accountable for “moral obscenity”; President Obama 31 Aug said would seek Congressional approval 9 Sept for military action against select targets. French FM said inaction “unacceptable”. UN investigation team, already stationed in Damascus, investigated attack site 23-28 Aug. 10 children killed, many wounded 29 Aug after incendiary bomb reportedly dropped on school in Aleppo. Al-Qaeda branch Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) continued to strengthen position along northern and eastern fronts, generating increasing alarm in opposition political and activist circles amid continued reports of repressive governance in ISIS strongholds Aleppo and Raqqa. Rebels made advances early Aug after capturing villages and facilities in President Assad’s home province Latakia, 6 Aug seized army airbase outside Aleppo following 10-month siege. Regime forces 19 Aug pushed rebels out of Latakia, 21 Aug launched offensive to regain rebel-held territory around Damascus. Estimated 40,000 mostly Syrian Kurds fled to Iraqi Kurdistan starting mid-Aug due to increased fighting between Kurdish militias and Islamist extremist rebel factions in Kurdish areas of NE Syria.

Egypt

  |  1 Aug 2013

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Political tensions reached new heights after military leadership 3 July removed President Morsi following mass protests late June/early July, suspended constitution and 4 July replaced him with head of Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mansour as interim president. Mansour mid-July issued constitutional decree dissolving parliament, also appointed new interim cabinet with no Islamists included; also appointed committee to review amendments to constitution. MB refused to concede presidency, 16 July said new cabinet “illegitimate”. Violence intensified as pro-Morsi protesters clashed with security forces and MB opponents; 8 July clash between Republican Guards and Morsi supporters left over 80 supporters and 1 army officer dead. Rival rallies late month saw over 70 pro-Morsi protesters killed. Military detained and arrested hundreds of MB leaders and members as well as Islamist politicians who refuse to recognise legitimacy of 3 July military intervention. Interim govt 31 July said it will take measures to disperse pro-MB sit-ins, considered to constitute a “threat to national security”; protesters defied announcement. Morsi put under house arrest and accused 26 July of murder, kidnapping and ties with Hamas; EU FM Ashton 29 July met Morsi, said appeared healthy. Militant attacks on security forces in Sinai continued, with sporadic sectarian attacks against Christians in Upper Egypt. UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait early July committed aid/loans totalling $12bn.

Syria

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Opposition militants regained initiative on northern and southern fronts, 22 July seized Khan al-Assal in Aleppo province. Regime forces continued gains in Homs and Damascus suburbs, reportedly killing at least 49 rebels 21 July, 29 July seized Khaldiya district of Homs from rebels. Syrian National Coalition (NC) 6 July elected Ahmad al-Jarba as new leader; election shifted balance of regional influence within NC from Doha to Riyadh. Interim PM Hitto, elected by NC in March, resigned 8 July after failing to form interim govt. Armed opposition saw internal fighting among factions: al-Qaeda Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) emir 11 July killed prominent mainstream Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel commander Abu Bassel al-Ladkani in Latakia. Violent clashes resumed between Kurdish militants and al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in various northern towns 16 July; militants 31 July reportedly took some 200 Kurdish civilians hostage after seizing 2 northern towns. UK PM Cameron 21 July indicated UK will not arm Syrian rebels; last U.S. congressional bars to arming rebels lifted 22 July. New Israeli air strike 5 July on warehouse in Latakia (see Israel/Palestine).

Lebanon

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Continued spillover from Syrian conflict with attacks on Hizbollah assets and allies. Dozens injured in car bomb targeting Hizbollah-controlled southern Beirut suburb Beir el-Abed 9 July; Syrian “Special Forces 313 Brigade” rebels claimed responsibility, also claimed 28 June attack on Hizbollah convoy. Roadside bomb 16 July struck Hizbollah convoy in Bekaa valley near Syrian border, killed 1. Gunmen 17 July killed pro-Assad Syrian media commentator Mohammad Darra Jamo in Sarafand; security services issued arrest warrants for Jamo’s family members, claiming no clear political motive behind his killing. Authorities 4 July charged Salafi Sheikh Assir and 36 supporters over June clashes in Abra. EU FMs 22 July agreed to blacklist Hizbollah’s military wing as terrorist organisation. Political deadlock continued as Parliament unable to convene due to boycott by some MPs, interim PM Salam still attempting to form cabinet.

Syria

  |  1 Jul 2013

Deteriorated

Conflict’s transition to regional sectarian struggle continued to gain momentum. Regime continues to rely more heavily on foreign fighters: backed by Hizbollah fighters, Syrian army 5 June recaptured town of Qusayr near Lebanon border from rebels; launched offensives on Aleppo 11 June and Homs 29 June in bid to retake rebel-controlled areas. Iraqi Shiite militiamen reported to be streaming in in greater numbers, deploying in various parts of country. Rebel attack near military airport in Damascus 16 June reportedly killed at least 20 soldiers; 11 June massacre of Shiites in eastern village Hatla, reportedly carried out by opposition armed groups, further heightened sectarian tensions. Assembled in Cairo, leading Sunni clerics 13 June made joint call for jihad in Syria, endorsed by Egyptian President Morsi. Golan Heights border crossing briefly taken by rebels 6 June, recaptured a few hours later by Syrian army; Austria 11 June began withdrawing its UNDOF peacekeepers from Golan. U.S. 13 June committed to providing military support to rebels after assessing that regime has used chemical weapons; Friends of Syria group 22 June met in Doha to coordinate future arms delivery to Syrian rebels, while Russia 4 June defended planned delivery of MIGs and S-300 missiles to Syrian military saying it was in line with international law. Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief commander Salim Idriss 21 June affirmed FSA received arms shipments. Leaders at G8 summit 17-18 June failed to agree on resolution of Syrian conflict but committed to push for planned Geneva peace conference. UN/Arab League envoy Brahimi 25 June said Geneva conference unlikely until at least Aug as opposition doesn’t appear ready. Russia 26 June completed withdrawal of all military personnel from Syria due to security threat. UN 7 June launched largest ever humanitarian aid appeal of $5bn.

Lebanon

  |  1 Jul 2013

Deteriorated

As country increasingly drawn into Syrian conflict, sectarian clashes increasing. Shelling across border from Syria continued including at least 12 rockets fired on eastern city Baalbek, shelling of Bekaa valley, Hermel and Arsal border towns. Demonstrators protesting shelling blocked roads in Bekaa, Beirut, al-Abboudiyeh, al-Bireh and clashed with army, leaving 1 dead. Clashes between Sheikh Assir supporters and pro-Hizbollah group in Sidon prompted army deployment 18 June, 2 killed. First-ever clash between army and armed Sheikh Assir supporters in Abra near Sidon 23-24 June; dozens killed, over 100 arrested after army 24 June stormed Assir HQ. Violence in Tripoli between Alawite and Sunni residents early month left at least 6 dead. Anti-Hizbollah protest outside Iranian embassy in Beirut 9 June turned violent, 1 killed. March 14 political coalition and foreign countries supporting Syrian opposition condemned Hizbollah’s involvement in Syria conflict during month. EU 19 June failed to reach consensus on blacklisting Hizbollah military wing as terrorist group. President Suleiman lodged official complaints with UN and Arab League condemning Syrian violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.


Egypt

  |  1 Jul 2013

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Egypt Tensions between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opponents continued to intensify, exacerbated by continued deterioration in socio-economic conditions, increasingly frequent power cuts and gasoline shortages. Amid increasingly aggressive rhetoric on both sides, opposition rejected President Morsi’s 2 June call for national dialogue. Thousands gathered for pro-Morsi rally in Cairo 21 June. Morsi 26 June proposed setting up committee for national reconciliation and another for proposing constitutional amendments, but opposition rejected initiative. At least 10 killed in unrest late month and during large-scale opposition rallies in Cairo and other cities 30 June, which saw tens of thousands protesting calling for Morsi’s resignation and early presidential elections; Morsi supporters also rallied. Anti-Morsi “Tammarud” (“Rebel”) campaign claimed to have gathered 22mn signatures in petition to oust President, while pro-Morsi “Taggarud” campaign claimed to have gathered 25mn signatures in support of President. Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) 2 June ruled parliament’s upper house illegal but allowed to keep legislative power until new elections held; Shura Council 23 June approved SCC’s May amendments to draft electoral law. Controversial governor reshuffle by Morsi that saw Gamaa’ al-Islamiyya-founded Building and Development Party member Adel Assad Mohamed al-Khayat appointed as Luxor governor 17 June sparked protests, resignation of tourism minister; al-Khayat resigned 23 June, tourism minister withdrew resignation. Morsi 15 June announced Egypt has cut all ties with Syria, called for no-fly zone and Hizbollah withdrawal from Syria; Syrian govt condemned decision. Relations with Ethiopia still tense over Nile dam project (see Ethiopia).

“Egypt parliament ruled illegal, but to stay on”, Reuters, 2 June 2013.


Syria

  |  1 Jun 2013

Deteriorated

Fears of wider regional conflict grew after Israeli jets 5 May targeted military base in Damascus reportedly housing Iranian missiles for Hizbollah, killing several in first major Israeli strike. Followed reported earlier strike on shipment of weapons headed for Lebanon. In response, President Assad and Hizbollah threatened to turn Golan Heights into “resistance front”. Opposition accused regime forces of massacre, killing at least 50 people in Baida 2 May. Fighting ongoing in al-Qusayr between Syrian rebels and govt troops backed by Hizbollah fighters. Regime forces 8 May retook strategic town Khirbet Ghazaleh after 2-month bombardment, reestablished control of supply route to Daraa. Rebel Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade 12 May freed 4 Filippino UN peacekeepers captured 5 days earlier near Golan Heights. U.S. and Russia 7 May agreed to convene a new peace conference in Geneva in June; Syrian govt 24 May agreed “in principle” to attend but opposition Syrian National Coalition (NC) 30 May threatened to boycott conference if Hizbollah and Iran keep “invading” Syria. NC failed to elect new leader during talks in Istanbul. UNGA 15 May adopted resolution condemning ongoing violence in Syria; 31 May added militant group Jabhat al-Nusra to sanctions list due to al-Qaeda ties. EU 27 May lifted arms embargo on Syria; EU foreign policy chief Ashton said no current plans to deliver arms. Russia 28 May said it would honour contract to deliver S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syrian govt; Israel suggested it could strike any Russian arms shipment to Syria.

Lebanon

  |  1 Jun 2013

Deteriorated

Hizbollah increased support for Syrian troops fighting rebels in Syrian city al-Qusayr near border with Lebanon: Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah 25 May officially committed to fight against Syrian rebellion. At least 79 Hizbollah fighters killed in clashes with Syrian rebels 19-26 May. Germany 24 May backed UK efforts to add Hizbollah’s military wing to EU terrorist list. Syrian rebels mid-May fired more rockets into Hermel region and al-Qaa, no casualties reported. 30 killed and 200 wounded when renewed violence erupted between Sunni and Alawite residents in Tripoli 19 May. PM Tammam Salam continued consultations with political leaders to form cabinet and to agree on electoral law; MPs 31 May extended parliament’s mandate to Nov 2014, delaying parliamentary elections. UNIFIL, Lebanese and Israeli military reps met 8 May to discuss Lebanese complaint regarding Israel’s withdrawal from northern village Ghaggar and allegation of Israeli violations along Blue line, 9 May vowed to maintain calm along border.

Egypt

  |  1 Jun 2013

Unchanged

Political stalemate between President Morsi’s administration and opponents continued. Morsi 7 May reshuffled cabinet replacing 9 ministers, raising number of officials affiliated with his Freedom and Justice Party from 8 to 10; prompted criticism from opposition National Salvation Front, which had refused to participate in new cabinet unless PM Qandil is replaced. Anti-govt protests continue, though much reduced in number and frequency: young activist group launched “Rebellion” campaign aimed at gathering 15mn signatures in petition to oust Morsi. Tensions in Sinai ongoing; armed group 16 May abducted 7 security officers, called for release of jailed militants; army 22 May freed officers. Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) 25 May rejected draft elections law and demanded right to vote be given to army and police; some MPs threatened to sue SCC. No date yet set for parliamentary elections. Ethiopia’s diversion of Nile waters met with protests (see Ethiopia).

Lebanon

  |  1 May 2013

Deteriorated

Lebanon further drawn into Syria conflict as Hizbollah fighters reportedly leading operation against Syrian rebel forces in western city Al-Qusayr near border with Lebanon; Syrian rebels fired rockets into border villages during month, killing 2. March 14 coalition and Progressive Socialist Party Druze leader Walid Jumblatt denounced Hizbollah’s involvement in Syria conflict; Hizbollah denies its members are fighting, claims they are protecting Lebanese against Syrian rebel attacks, 30 April said Syria’s “real friends” in region will not let it fall. Syrian jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra 24 April threatened to attack Beirut if President Suleiman does not stop Hizbollah involvement. Suleiman condemned Salafist Sheikhs Assir and al-Rafehi’s calls to send jihad fighters to help Syrian opposition; Free Syrian Army also rejected clerics’ call. EU 23 April agreed to provide $38.9m to help almost 450,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Parliament 6 April designated moderate March 14 figure Tammam Salam new PM; Salam holding consultations over distribution of ministerial portfolios. Parliamentary subcommittee discussing new electoral law suspended 24 April amid deadlock.

Egypt

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

Amid ongoing violent clashes between protesters and police, anti-govt protesters 12 April attempted assault on Muslim Brotherhood (MB) HQ in Alexandria and presidential palace in Cairo. Pro-MB and other Islamists 19 April staged protest demanding judicial purge to remove judges linked to Mubarak regime; Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki resigned 21 April pre-empting removal in forthcoming cabinet reshuffle, presidential legal adviser quit 23 April. President Morsi 10 April dropped charges against journalists for “insulting” him in March, including TV satirist Bassem Youssef. Sectarian violence between Copts and Muslims early April left 7 dead in Abbesaya and Al-Khasous north of Cairo. Reports of violence in Sinai mid-April prompted govt to increase security; Salafi militants in Sinai 17 April fired rockets on Eilat in Israel, no casualties. Security forces reported they dismantled Israeli spy network in northern Sinai. IMF loan negotiations ended 16 April without agreement; Libya, Qatar and Turkey offered financial assistance, Iraq, Libya and Qatar low-cost energy.

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CrisisWatch N°133

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