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CrisisWatch Database

Region / country

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1665 results found
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Tunisia

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Militants 18 March attacked Bardo Museum in Tunis, killing 23, mostly European tourists. President Essebsi stressed need for national unity, Islamist An-Nahda party called for more counter-terrorism efforts; security forces 29 March said commander of group responsible killed with eight other militants in south; some twenty arrested in connection with attack. Divisions within ruling Nida Tounes party between former members of Ben Ali-era ruling RCD party and leftists or anti-Islamists lessened after attack. Hundreds of thousands marched in Tunis against terrorism, including Essebsi and other world leaders. Social tensions in south continued, spurred by fears of attacks by Libya-based jihadis. Security forces 6 and 9 March discovered three weapons caches near Libya border, incuding dozens of small arms, grenades and bullets. Interior Ministry 29 March announced nine suspected terrorists killed in security operation in Gafsa governorate. Security forces expanded arrests of alleged terrorist sympathisers throughout month after mass arrests in Feb.

Egypt

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Supreme Constitutional Court early March ruled two of three election-related laws decreed by President Sisi unconstitutional, effectively cancelling parliamentary elections scheduled to begin 22 April. Ruling welcomed by several political parties who had criticised laws; Sisi criticised for rushing legislation. Sisi 5 March announced small cabinet reshuffle, replaced eight ministers including controversial Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, moved to deputy PM position. Crackdown on political dissent continued: fourteen outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members sentenced to death 16 March; 41 judges reportedly sacked for supporting MB. State media 29 March revealed MB leader Mohamed Badie and seventeen other top members listed by public prosecutor as terrorists. Army continued major military operations in Sinai: eight security force members killed during month, govt claimed at least 160 54 militants killed. Several bomb attacks against police stations and courts early March, particularly in Cairo area and Nile Delta. Sisi mid-March hosted investment conference in Sharm al-Sheikh, attended by over 1,700 investors and several world leaders; several billion USD in investments pledged including toward building new capital, notably from Gulf states. U.S. 31 March said would end weapons freeze imposed in 2013. Deal on Nile waters signed with Sudan and Ethiopia (see Ethiopia).

Algeria

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Govt began talks with oil-producing countries on reversing decline in oil prices. Trial began involving former officials of state oil company concerning massive corruption discovered in 2009; adjourned after several witnesses did not appear. Govt 19 March announced shale gas exploration to continue despite protests against project in south. Three militants reportedly killed by army in Tagara area near Algiers.

Iraq

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

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

Iran

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

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

Bahrain

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

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

Lebanon

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Amid ongoing fight against Syrian militants along Lebanon’s north-eastern borders, regional and international powers stepped up scale and pace of assistance to Lebanon’s military, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, U.S., France, Russia. Observers emphasise need to reach out to Syrian refugees and Sunnis alienated by military’s heavy-handed campaign against extremists. Parliament 11 March failed to elect president for 20th consecutive time, after ten months without head of state; political factions remain divided over conflict in Syria. Despite divisions and ongoing stalemate, cabinet maintained semblance of stability amid mounting security threats. Hizbollah and Future Current continued new dialogue after hiatus of more than three years, reportedly to defuse Sunni-Shiite tensions, including talks 18 March Lebanese army involved in clash near Syrian border 27 March; seven suspects reportedly attempted illegal entry into Lebanese territory, one reported killed, two arrested.

Israel/Palestine

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Ruling Likud party declared winner of Israeli legislative elections 17 March with 30 of 120 parliamentary seats; PM Netanyahu 26 March began negotiations to form what is expected to be right-wing new govt, with Likud likely to retain defence ministry. Speaking on election day Netanyahu said Arabs going “in droves” to ballot box, sparking accusations of racism; observers anticipate increasing tensions between Arab Israelis and govt. Day before polls Netanyahu stated impossibility of Palestinian statehood under his rule, making prospect of renewal of peace process recede further. Amid continued salary crisis in Gaza and W Bank, Palestinian Authority forced to cut employee salaries, introduce emergency budget. Israeli govt March 27 announced it will resume payment of Palestinian tax revenues; PLO Central Council 5 March had voted to suspend all security cooperation with Israel. Despite focus on election campaign Israel took some measures to ease tensions in W Bank and Gaza, introducing increased numbers of work permits to W Bank residents, permitting limited exports of Gaza produce, meeting Qatari representatives to facilitate development projects in Gaza. France preparing draft resolution for UNSC for early April, calling for pre-1967 frontier as reference for border talks, while allowing for territory swaps; Jerusalem to be designated capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state; and fair solution for Palestinian refugees.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

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

Syria

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

As country entered fifth year of conflict, ongoing offensives by regime and allied forces against rebels yielding mixed results. Regime campaign backed by Hizbollah and Iran aiming to reverse months of rebel gains in south slowed, but pro-regime forces maintain control of newly-gained territory SW of Damascus. Offensive on rebel-held areas north of Aleppo continued: regime forces suffered heavy casualties, dozens of fighters captured; lost most of the ground seized in 16 Feb attack. Following relative success against regime, rebel confidence in Aleppo further boosted by signs of weakness among Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) forces east of city, following string of IS losses in Kurdish areas surrounding Kobani at hands of Turkish Armed Forces (PYD) and rebels. U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against IS also continued: five airstrikes hit IS positions in Kobani and Raqqah 25-26 March. Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) continued expansion west of Aleppo, following capture late-Feb of last-remaining stronghold of Western-backed rebel group Haraket Hazm, which disbanded itself 1 March after JN defeat and issued statement suggesting remaining members will join Levant Front, leading alliance of non-jihadi rebels in Aleppo. Hazm’s defeat leaves U.S. without clear partner in northern Syria. Amid continued efforts to broker “freeze” of Aleppo fighting, rebels reiterated refusal to work with UN Syria Envoy de Mistura. Coalition of rebels 24 March launched major offensive to capture NW city of Idlib from govt; succeeded in doing so within five days. Rebels 25 March captured historic town Busra al-Sham in Daraa province, south.

Yemen

  |  1 Apr 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

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

Libya

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

UN-led political dialogue continued, with two rounds of talks in early March and third beginning 24 March; UN unveiled six-point proposal aimed at ending violence at parallel meetings of political party leaders held mid-March in Algiers. Another round of talks between municipal council leaders held 23 March in Brussels; fourth track focused on tribal leaders planned in Cairo. Despite this, no agreement reached on new National Unity Govt (NUG) to unite Tripoli and Tobruk factions: Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) continued to insist it should be sole institution to vote on NUG, position rejected by Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC). GNC leader Omar al-Hassi reportedly ousted from PM position following complaints from ministers. Tobruk authorities mid-March attempted to secure deal with UAE petroleum group authorising export of crude oil from Ras Lanuf terminal; deal, which fell through, countered previous agreements establishing Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) as sole entity allowed to authorise oil sales. Military confrontation continued, with attacks by Misrata-Tripoli coalition on Zintan and Sidra port area, and aerial strikes by Hafter-led forces on Tripoli airport and Misrati positions in Sidra area. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) affiliated militants early March carried out series of attacks on oil fields in Sirte basin area, late March targeted brigades from Misrata. UNSC Resolution 27 March called for immediate ceasefire, approved extention of UNSMIL mandate and reaffirmed arms embargo; second resolution urged member states to support Libyan govt in fight against IS

Tunisia

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

New govt approved by parliament 4 Feb following weeks of delay: technocrats and Nida Tounes, An-Nahda, Free Patriotic Union (UPL) and Afek Tounes parties all awarded minister positions. Security forces clashed with demonstrators in southern provinces protesting imposition of entry and exit taxes along Libya border, one killed 8 Feb. Security official 13 Feb said some 500 Tunisian Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) fighters returned from Iraq and Syria, exacerbating existing security concerns; security forces announced up to 3,000 arrested 6-13 Feb, some further 100 arrested 20-24 Feb. Following IS attack in Libya (see Libya), army moved several units to southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration. Four national guards killed 16 Feb by al-Qaeda brigade near Mount Chaambi.

Mauritania

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Govt 5 Feb announced senatorial elections planned for 15 March postponed in order to allow govt and opposition, which currently plans to boycott vote, time to negotiate acceptable timetable and conditions for polls. Hundreds protested 12 Feb calling for release of three anti-slavery activists arrested Nov 2014; activists 23 Feb began hunger strike to protest prison conditions, abuse.

Egypt

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Egyptian air force 16 Feb bombed militant targets inside Libya after Libyan group calling itself Islamic State – Tripoli Province released video showing execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians (see Libya); govt urged UNSC to support intervention, lift arms embargo on Egyptian-allied govt of Libyan PM al-Thinni and impose maritime blockade on Libya. Violence continued in Sinai: jihadi group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM; also known as Sinai Province and linked to jihadi group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL)) 10 Feb claimed execution of eight tribesmen accused of collaborating with army and Israel; army reportedly killed scores of militants, including 47 in N Sinai 6 Feb. Deadly bomb attacks continued in Cairo including policeman killed 13 Feb. Court 4 Feb sentenced protest leader Ahmad Douma and 229 others to life imprisonment over clashes with army during Dec 2011 protest. Crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood (MB) continued: court 2 Feb confirmed death sentencing of 183 MB members; govt 23 Feb dissolved 169 MB-affiliated NGOs. Authorities early Feb released and deported Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, court released two others from detention. At least nineteen killed in stampede after police 10 Feb tear-gassed football fans in Cairo.

Algeria

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Political tug-of-war between governing FLN-RND coalition and opposition parties continued over holding of “national consensus conference” on transition to address issues related to President Bouteflika’s failing health, falling oil prices and delayed constitutional reform. Officials from two ruling parties said they would not participate in any meeting that would “undermine the legitimacy of republican institutions starting with the presidency” or put focus on any “transition”. Protests over shale gas exploration widened early Feb after officials from Sonatrach, national oil company, suggested drilling would continue despite govt assurances to contrary.

Iraq

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

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

Iran

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

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

Bahrain

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

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

Lebanon

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah 16 Feb admitted group has “limited presence” in Iraq, said Hizbollah role still “in its earliest stages” raising suspicions over possible preparations for deeper engagement. Authorities mid-Feb allegedly foiled assassination attempt against former Information Minister Michel Samaha, detained since Aug 2012 for plotting bomb attacks in Lebanon in coordination with Syrian officials; plot reportedly organised by Samaha’s former allies.

Israel/Palestine

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Amid continued economic crises in Gaza and W Bank, Hamas test fired long-range rockets toward sea in Gaza, demanded international community ensure payments for Gaza’s civil servants and delivery of unpaid donor funds for Gaza reconstruction. Palestinian President Abbas late month threatened to halt security coordination with Israel unless Israel releases frozen Palestinian tax revenues, withheld since Abbas’s late Dec signing of Rome Statute, undermining PA’s ability to pay W Bank employees. Campaigning continued ahead 17 March Israeli elections; observers suggested release of Palestinian revenues unlikely before elections. Israeli troops 24 Feb shot dead Palestinian during clash in W Bank refugee camp.

Syria

  |  2 Mar 2015

Deteriorated

Regime and allied forces early Feb began major campaign in south following months of rebel gains in Daraa and Quneitra provinces: retook some ground from rebels including areas south-west of Damascus, scores reported killed by mid-month; pro-regime media reported direct Iranian, Hizbollah participation, signalling apparent major escalation by non-Syrian pro-regime forces in south. Regime and allied forces 16 Feb launched attack on rebel-held areas north of Aleppo and inside city: captured some ground but suffered heavy casualties; hundreds of rebels and pro-regime forces reported killed. UN Syria Envoy de Mistura 17 Feb briefed UNSC on efforts to broker “freeze” of Aleppo fighting: said regime indicated willingness to halt aerial bombardments for six weeks while pursuing agreement on “freeze” in part of Aleppo. Announcement made without rebel agreement to halt fighting; rebel scepticism of UN efforts increased following de Mistura’s 13 Feb statement that Bashar Assad is “part of the solution”, later clarified to mean Assad needed for “de-escalation of violence”. Kurdish forces and allied rebels continued advancing following late Jan victory over Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) in Kobani: seized several mostly Kurdish towns south of city, late Feb seized north-eastern town Tel Hamis. IS late Feb reportedly abducted over 200 Christian villagers in north east. Deadly regime airstrikes continued including scores killed around Damascus 5 Feb following rebel shelling of regime-held areas. U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against IS continued; at least 30 reported killed in Raqqah province 6 Feb.

Yemen

  |  2 Mar 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

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

Libya

  |  2 Mar 2015

Deteriorated

As deadly violence continued to rise, Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) withdrew from UN-sponsored talks aimed at finding solution to political crisis. Armed group pledging allegiance to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) 15 Feb released video showing militants beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Sirte; in response, Egyptian jets 16 Feb launched aerial attacks on IS stronghold of Derna (see Egypt), Libyan air force commander said at least 40 militants killed. Libya and Egypt 18 Feb called on UNSC to lift arms embargo. At least 45 killed in simultaneous car bomb attacks in Qubba, near Derna, 20 Feb; attacks targeted police HQ and home of HoR speaker Aguila Salah Issa and were claimed by IS. Islamist militants 4 Feb attacked Mabruk oil field killing ten. Efforts at diplomatic solution continued: warring factions 10 Feb resumed UN-sponsored talks but HoR 22 Feb voted to suspend participation in talks, citing rival assembly’s failure to condemn Qubbah bombings, said dialogue lacked vision.

Tunisia

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

New President Essebsi 5 Jan nominated Habib Essid, former interior minister, new PM; nomination of cabinet delayed after several parties, including second largest in parliament An-Nahda, mid-Jan expressed opposition to Essebsi’s proposed candidates. Suspected Islamist militants 4 Jan killed policeman near El Fahes, Zahoun regions. Military court convicted blogger of insulting army, sentenced to one year jail.

Mauritania

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

President Abdel-Aziz early Jan called for dialogue with opposition bloc National Forum for Democracy and Unity (FNDU). FNDU rejected call; govt 22 Jan said ruling party “not against” holding early elections, as requested by opposition.Thousands protested against Charlie Hebdo cartoons 16 Jan; Abdel-Aziz addressed protesters, said cartoon “attack on our religion and on all religious”. Three anti-slavery activists sentenced to two years’ prison 15 Jan; subsequent protests violently dispersed by police.

Algeria

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

PM Sellal 21 January announced austerity measures in response to falling oil prices, fuelling concerns over Algeria’s continued ability to buy social peace; energy minister 22 Jan said country could boost oil production to compensate, avoid international borrowing. Protests throughout month in south against possible shale gas exploration (“fracking”). Authorities mid-Jan announced series of terrorist operations targeting oil and gas areas in south thwarted. Thousands demonstrated 16 Jan in capital against Charlie Hebdo cartoons; several police injured in clashes with protesters, dozens arrested including two Islamist leaders for illegally organising march. Govt late-Jan agreed to work together with Niger forces to tackle threat of armed groups in Sahel.

Saudi Arabia

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

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

Iraq

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

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

Iran

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

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

Bahrain

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

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

Syria

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Early-Jan winter storm slowed military activity but added to hardships endured by millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance: UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced winter response plan underfunded by $70mn; World Food Program said $112mn urgently needed to cover food assistance for coming four months. Military activity increased as storm subsided: al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) launched offensive to capture sole remaining regime base in south-eastern Idlib countryside, Abu al-Duhr airbase; 13 Jan captured neighbouring Tal Salmo town from regime forces, 18 Jan claimed downing of regime cargo plane killing 35. Kurdish forces late month pushed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) forces out of Kobani amid continued U.S.-led airstrikes. At least eighteen reported killed in rare clashes between regime and Kurdish forces controlling separate parts of Hasakeh city 17-18 Jan. Deadly regime airstrikes continued including scores killed in IS-held area of Hasakeh province 20 Jan, scores more in rebel-held area near Damascus 23 Jan. Russia failed to convince significant opposition figures to attend late Jan talks with regime representatives in Moscow; Damascus signalled lack of interest by lowering level of representation at talks.

Israel/Palestine

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

International Criminal Court (ICC) 16 Jan opened preliminary examination into possible war crimes committed in Palestinian territories since 13 June 2014; move followed UN announcement early month Palestine will join Rome Statute of ICC as full member 1 April. Israel responded by freezing transfer of Palestinian tax revenues. PA continued to refuse paying Gaza’s Hamas-hired civil servants, while insisting on return of Gaza employees hired prior to Hamas takeover in June 2007; observers warned renewed civil strife in Gaza could spark more intra-Palestinian or Gaza-Israel violence. Salafi-jihadis permitted to demonstrate in Gaza 19 Jan; unidentified assailants blew up cars belonging to members of Fatah and Hamas. Hamas mid-Jan declared Fatah-affiliated employees of pre-2007 govt would no longer be allowed to collect salaries; ATMs, surveillance cameras of bank used for salary payments sabotaged. Palestinian 21 Jan injured thirteen in knife-attack on bus passengers in Tel Aviv; Israeli forces 14 Jan shot dead Palestinian outside W Bank settlement, another killed near Nablus 31 Jan. Israeli political parties campaigned vigorously ahead of 17 March election; Arab parties 22 Jan united into unprecedented single joint list, likely to increase voting among Israeli Arab citizens. Two Israeli soldiers killed by Hizbollah along Lebanese border 28 Jan in retaliation for 18 Jan Israeli airstrike in Golan Heights killing six Hizbollah members, Iranian Revolutionary Guard General (see Lebanon).

Lebanon

  |  2 Feb 2015

Deteriorated

Israel 18 Jan killed six Hizbollah members and Iranian Revolutionary Guard General in airstrike on convoy in Golan Heights; Hizbollah 28 Jan retaliated killing two Israeli soldiers across Israel-Lebanon border, with UN peacekeeper killed as Israel returned fire; both parties said they intend to avoid further escalation. Renewed Sunni-Alawite tensions in Tripoli following 11 Jan twin suicide bombing at cafe in predominantly Alawite area, killing nine; claimed by al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra. Army responded by raiding Roumieh prison; Islamist inmates purportedly connected to attack, able to communicate with outside accomplices due to chaotic prison conditions. Army 23 Jan clashed with militants near eastern border village Ras Baalbek; eight soldiers, dozens of militants reported killed.

Yemen

  |  2 Feb 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

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

Western Sahara

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Polisario Front leader Mohamed Abdelaziz 22 Jan denounced Moroccan govt’s attempt to put conditions on UNSG SR work in Western Sahara, called on UN to stop “shameless” exploitation of natural resources in region by Morocco.

Libya

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

UN-convened talks held 14-15 Jan after several delays, and again 27-28 Jan; talks aimed at agreement on formation of national unity govt, ending hostilities, putting constitution back on track; representatives of internationally-recognised House of Representatives (HoR) attended but General National Congress (GNC) refused to participate. Military confrontation between forces allied to rival parliaments continued throughout month in Benghazi, west of Tripoli and around oil terminals in Gulf of Sirte. Militia loyal to former army general Khalifa Hiftar 22 Jan siezed control of Central Bank’s Benghazi branch, transferred branch’s database and computer systems to al-Bayda town in east; bank’s vault so far intact. Some twenty Egyptian Christians kidnapped by Islamist militants early Jan, thirteen from Sirte. Leader of Ansar al-Sharia militant group confirmed dead 24 Jan, killed in Oct clashes. At least twelve killed, including French and U.S. citizen, in attack on hotel in Tripoli 27 Jan; social media linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) claimed IS responsible for attack, but self-declared Tripoli-based govt blamed military wing of internationally-recognised Tobruk-based parliament.

Egypt

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Dozens of protesters, one police killed on 25 Jan anniversary of 2011 uprising; over 500 arrested. President Sisi 12-13 Jan held first meetings with political party leaders ahead of March-May parliamentary elections; declined to support any party, promised to back unified national party list. Authorities same day released former deputy foreign affairs adviser to deposed President Morsi in most significant Muslim Brotherhood (MB) release to date; junior MB members reportedly offered release in exchange for signing repentance forms. Authorities 26 Jan released two sons of former President Mubarak. Court 1 Jan overturned convictions of three Al Jazeera journalists and ordered retrial following late Dec Saudi-brokered agreement requiring Qatar to close Al Jazeera’s Egypt station, which has frequently given airtime to MB members. Court 31 Jan listed Hamas’ armed wing as terrorist organisation; military continued to evict residents and demolish homes in Rafah to create buffer zone along Gaza border. Attacks by jihadi group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis continued including at least 30 soldiers and police killed in attacks in north Sinai 29 Jan. Assassinations of police continued including two shot dead outside church in Minya 6 Jan.

Tunisia

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of secular party Nida Tounes, won second round of presidential elections 19-21 Dec with 55.68% of vote, sworn in 31 Dec. Poll polarised country, sparking protests in south after Essebsi late Nov claimed incumbent candidate Moncef Marzouki’s campaign and electoral base driven by Islamists and Salafi jihadis. Nida Tounes’ Mohamed Ennaceur elected parliament speaker. Security forces 14 Dec reportedly arrested seven militants in Kebili, another five arrested in Kasserine.

Mauritania

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Govt ministers, military officials and other representatives 15 Dec met senior NATO officials in Nouakchott to discuss terrorism, illegal trafficking and other regional security issues.

Algeria

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Govt continued to toughen stance on illegal immigrants, began repatriation of some 3,000 Nigerien migrants. Defence ministry 2 Dec announced army arrested over 50 foreign smugglers near Niger border. Security forces late Dec reportedly killed Gouri Abdelmalek, leader of Jund al Khilafa militant group responsible for Sept kidnapping and beheading of French tourist.

Saudi Arabia

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

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

Iraq

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

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

Iran

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

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

Bahrain

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

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

Syria

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) continued to advance in Idlib province following Nov expulsion of forces loyal to U.S. and Saudi-backed rebel commander Jamal Marouf from stronghold in Jabal al-Zawiya region: most recipients of U.S. support either evicted from province, disarmed, subordinated to JN or forced to seek protection from Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham (AS) by early Dec; U.S. cut support to groups in Idlib and neighbouring Hama province as JN advance left remaining U.S. allies unable to guarantee safety of supply lines. JN, AS mid-month captured two regime bases in southern Idlib after over eighteen months of attempts by U.S.-backed rebels; around 180 killed according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) NGO. Former recipients of U.S. support joined Idlib operation, resulting in U.S.-supplied arms being employed under JN leadership. Mainstream rebel alliance “Revolutionary Command Council” (RCC), covering broad array of rebel factions including U.S.-backed groups and AS, took further steps toward forming representative umbrella organisation; RCC president Qais Abdullah Sheikh early Dec met UN Syria envoy De Mistura in Turkey along with other rebel leaders following late Nov RCC election. Clashes between regime, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) continued: scores reported killed in IS attacks on military base in Deir az-Zour province. Mass grave reportedly discovered in east mid-month containing hundreds of members of Sheitat tribe, executed by IS. Deadly regime airstrikes continued including scores reported killed around Homs city 17 Dec.

Israel/Palestine

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Palestinian President Abbas 31 Dec signed applications for membership of Rome Statute of International Criminal Court and several other international agreements, following failure of Jordanian-submitted Palestinian draft resolution to secure required three-fifths support during 30 Dec UNSC vote; Jordanian resolution called for negotiated resolution to conflict within twelve months, full withdrawal of Israeli forces from future Palestinian state by end of 2017. Tensions decreased in W Bank and Jerusalem, seemingly aided by Israel’s continued removal of restrictions on Palestinian access to al-Aqsa Mosque. PA minister Ziad Abu Ein died following altercation with Israeli soldiers during peaceful protest in W Bank 10 Dec. Israeli troops 16 Dec shot dead Palestinian in W Bank refugee camp Qalandiya; 29 Dec killed stone-throwing teenager near Tapuah settlement. EU General Court 17 Dec reversed EU designation of Hamas as terrorist organisation; several European states pledged to ensure Hamas remains on terror list. Gaza reconstruction proceeded slowly, PA official 22 Dec said over 90% of donor funds not delivered despite Oct pledges. Hamas continuously warned of return to violence if Gaza crisis remains unresolved. Israeli airstrikes 20 Dec targeted Gaza cement factory after Gaza militants fired rocket across border, no casualties; Hamas militant killed in clash with Israeli soldiers along border 24 Dec. Israeli PM Netanyahu 2 Dec requested early elections, confirmed by Knesset for 17 March.

Lebanon

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Syria-based jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) 5 Dec executed Lebanese policeman, held captive since Aug, in response to army’s arrest of wife and children of JN commander Abu Ali al-Shishani, ex-wife and children of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; 26 Lebanese servicemen remain in JN or IS captivity. Govt failure to manage hostage crisis resulted in civilians resorting to vigilantism following execution: blocked eastern roads, encircled border town Arsal; retaliations against Syrian refugees escalated including Syrian boy shot dead 7 Dec, refugee camp torched. Militants 2 Dec killed six soldiers near Syrian border; army shelled militant positions in area, arrested at least ten. Three militants reported killed by army near Arsal 26 Dec, including Syrian JN member.

Yemen

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

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

Egypt

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Govt 10 Dec finished drafting electoral districting law after five-month delay; political parties not consulted. Election commission expected to announce elections timetable within weeks after President Sisi issued law 23 Dec. Political parties criticised law, including for favouring return of Mubarak-era National Democratic Party members. Military prosecutors early Dec referred at least 820 to military trials in Ismailia, Beheira and Minya, signifying marked shift toward using military justice system. Sentencing related to Aug 2013 violence following ouster of former President Morsi continued: court 2 Dec sentenced 185 Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supporters to death over attack on Cairo police station; seven Islamist militants sentenced to death 6 Dec over attack on police near Israeli border. MB supporter reported killed in clash with police 12 Dec in northern province Kafr al-Sheikh. New Sinai-based militant group Katibat al-Rabat al-Jihadiya 15 Dec announced split from Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM) due to disagreement over ABM’s mid-Nov pledge of allegiance to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). Police 21 Dec reportedly killed five ABM militants in Nile Delta’s al-Sharqia district; two soldiers killed in bomb attack in northern Sinai 25 Dec. Two police, two gunmen killed in shootings in Cairo and Alexandria late Dec.

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CrisisWatch N°140

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