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CrisisWatch Database

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1831 results found
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Western Sahara

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
UNSC 29 April passed U.S.-drafted resolution renewing MINURSO mandate for one year, urging return of political component of mission, expelled by Morocco in March, within 90 days. Gulf Cooperation Council rulers in Riyadh 20 April backed Morocco after March spike in tensions with UN.

Tunisia

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Security forces 7 April killed two alleged jihadists in NW. IMF 15 April agreed in principle to four-year $2.8bn loan to support economic reforms. Police violently repressed protests early April on Kerkennah island against British oil company Petrofac over jobs it pledged for youth, provoked riots that led to army replacing police and national guard.

Mauritania

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Appeal court in SW Nouadhibou 21 April upheld death sentence for blogger Mohamed Mkhaitir convicted of apostasy Dec 2014, referred case to Supreme Court which can reduce sentence if it finds defendant repentant. Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders condemned ruling, called on court to repeal sentence. OHCHR 26 April deplored confirmation of sentence.

Libya

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
UN-backed PM Serraj made some progress putting in place Govt of National Accord (GNA) after arriving in Tripoli 30 March with six Presidential Council (PC) members. Despite clashes between rival militia in Tripoli 30 and 31 March, several local armed groups declared loyalty to GNA, many municipalities in west and main financial institutions recognised Serraj’s authority. Pre-existing rival Tripoli-based PM Khalifa Ghweil reported 5 April to have handed over power, 6 April denied it. Several armed groups in Tripoli announced their opposition to Serraj’s rule starting 6 April. Tripoli-based Mufti al-Sadeq al-Ghariani continued to consider GNA illegitimate. Disaffection with GNA grew in east following Serraj’s co-option of members of Tripoli-based Libya Dawn military alliance, election 6 April of Abderrahman Swehli as head of new advisory State Council loyal to PC, and visits of several European FMs to express support. Members of eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR) opposed to GNA repeatedly delayed vote to endorse it. GNA 18 April took over two ministries in Tripoli; 25 April said it had taken control of five others, including foreign ministry. GNA 28 April announced plans to establish joint military command against Islamic State. In defiance of GNA, eastern-based authorities approved export of crude oil that left Tobruk by sea 26 April. Tripoli said sale illegal, UN added tanker to sanctions blacklist; Malta, where transfer to take place, blocked tanker’s arrival.

Egypt

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Italy 8 April withdrew ambassador to protest authorities’ lack of collaboration investigating killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni whose body was found Feb with signs of torture, urged other EU members to press Egypt on case. Reuters 21 April reported that security services had detained Regeni 25 Jan, contradicting previous denial by Egyptian officials that he had been in custody. Saudi King Salman, French President Hollande, U.S. Sec State Kerry and others visited during month, pledged security support. Govt’s 9 April announcement that it would hand over to Saudi Arabia two strategic Red Sea islands as kingdom pledged $20bn aid and investment package sparked public indignation; demonstrators 15 April called for “downfall of regime” in largest protests since 2013, authorities 25 April dispersed crowds with teargas. Lawyers 23 April said dozens of anti-govt activists arrested since 21 April. Violence in Sinai continued: at least six soldiers and one civilian killed 7 April in two roadside bomb blasts, Islamic State claimed responsibility; four soldiers killed in ambush 9 April.

Algeria

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Tensions marred French PM Valls’s visit 9-10 April: govt denied visas to two French media outlets, prompting several others to not cover trip; Valls’s tweet of picture of President Bouteflika looking ill provoked backlash from Algerian authorities. Valls reiterated France’s aim to remain Algeria’s “leading economic partner”, a dozen contracts signed. Security forces continued raids. In south, army 4 April killed four armed Islamists, seized arms in El Oued; found arms caches south of Adrar 10 April and in Kouinine 15 March. In north, army 28 April killed two armed Islamists, recovered arms in Boumerdes province; 29 April killed three in Skikda region.

Saudi Arabia

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Islamic State affiliate Najd province claimed two attacks: militants 2 April detonated bomb near police station in al-Dilam SE of Riyadh killing one civilian; militants 5 April shot dead police colonel outside Riyadh. Security forces 29 April killed two suspected militants in shootout in Bisha province, one escaped, arrested next day.

Yemen

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged Resolution Opportunity

UN-sponsored talks between govt and Huthi/Saleh bloc began 21 April, two days late, after Huthi and former President Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) delegation 17 April refused to attend until UN envoy assured them Saudi Arabia-led coalition would respect 10 April cessation of hostilities and that agenda had not been changed without their approval. Parties agreed new agenda for talks 26 April. Govt suspended participation in joint sessions 1 May after Huthis 30 April seized Amaliqa military base N of Sanaa. Fighting continued including in Taiz (S), Marib (E) and Nihm (NE of Sanaa). In south govt-aligned Yemeni fighters backed by coalition airstrikes and United Arab Emirates troops 24 April retook Hadramout provincial capital, Mukalla, and environs from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Suspected U.S. drone strike reportedly killed three AQAP leaders 25 April in Zinjibar, NE of Aden. In Aden, suicide car bomb exploded 28 April outside security chief’s home, wounding at least two people.

Iraq

  |  2 May 2016

Deteriorated

Political disarray in Baghdad intensified amid standoff over attempted cabinet reshuffle, protests by MPs and large-scale demonstrations. After key political groups including opposition Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and Sunni Mouttahidoun rejected new cabinet line-up proposed by PM Abadi 30 March, Abadi proposed new list early April. Parliament speaker Salim al-Jibouri 14 April postponed parliamentary vote on second list citing lack of quorum. Over 100 MPs 15 April began sit-in in parliament to protest postponement; some demanded Jibouri resign, Sadrist-affiliated al-Ahrar bloc demanded PM, president and speaker resign. Abadi missed 19 April deadline to submit second list to parliament prompting Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to rally tens of thousands of protestors in central Baghdad, threaten violence if further delays. MPs disrupted parliament session 26 April stopping Abadi presenting third proposal. Protestors 30 April broke into fortified Green Zone and parliament prompting authorities to declare state of emergency. U.S. 19 April said it would send 200 more troops to provide intelligence and battlefield advice as Iraqi forces continue to expel Islamic State militants from Hit, Anbar province. Shiite paramilitary leaders and Kurdish peshmerga commanders 24 April agreed ceasefire but clashes in Tuz Khormato 25 April broke ceasefire and blocked main road from Baghdad to north.

Iran

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Govt continued efforts to gain access to outstanding $52bn in unfrozen assets following lifting of sanctions in Jan, with delays due to risk avoidance by major international financial institutions undermining political support for nuclear deal and President Rouhani in Tehran. Central bank chief met U.S. treasury secretary in Washington 15 April, Joint Commission held third meeting in Vienna 21 April and FM Zarif met U.S. Sec State Kerry in New York 18 and 22 April to discuss how to allow Iran dollarised transactions. Supreme Leader Khamenei’s late March indirect accusations of treason at former President Rafsanjani undermined latter’s chances of being elected next chair of Assembly of Experts, body responsible for choosing next Supreme Leader. Army commander 21 April denied it deployed troops in Syria following reports of soldiers killed there, but said some voluntarily joined Revolutionary Guards there (see Syria). Final statement of Organization of Islamic Conference summit in Istanbul 14-15 April condemned govt’s interference in Arab affairs citing Iran’s inflammatory statements on legal judgements against alleged terrorists in Saudi Arabia, prompting Rouhani to boycott closing session. Jordan withdrew ambassador from Iran citing Tehran’s interference in Gulf internal affairs, but Iran-EU relations continued to improve: Italian PM visited Tehran 12-13 April with 250-strong delegation, granted Iran nearly €5bn in credit lines and guarantees for exports; EU foreign policy chief Mogherini and seven EU commissioners visited Tehran 17 April to “turn a page on Iran-EU relations”.

Syria

  |  2 May 2016

Deteriorated
Month saw fragile “cessation of hostilities” which began 27 Feb collapse in N Syria and UN-brokered talks in Geneva unravel; regime and rebel shelling resulted in over 250 people reported killed in Aleppo 22-30 April, including in 27 April regime airstrike on hospital killing 50. Weeks of deterioration culminated 19 April with regime airstrikes on market in rebel-held Maarat al-Nauman in Idlib province, killing dozens. Opposition 19 April suspended participation in Geneva talks, citing continued regime military offensives and lack of progress in improving humanitarian conditions. Violence in Aleppo escalated as regime and Iran-backed militias began major offensive on city mid-April, while non-jihadist rebel factions joined Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) in escalating counter-attacks. Islamic State (IS) 27 April seized villages north of Aleppo along Turkish border, reversing rebel progress achieved early April. Initial casualty figures and pro-regime media reports suggest participation of allied foreign fighters and Iranian military personnel including from Iranian army in Aleppo at all-time high. As violence in Aleppo escalated, UN Special Envoy De Mistura 28 April called on Russia and U.S. to salvage ceasefire. Syrian army announced temporary “regime of calm” beginning 30 April, although Aleppo excluded, and most major opposition groups rejected regional ceasefires. UN rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein warned of reports of military build-ups indicating immanent escalation. Fighting continued elsewhere, including clashes between Kurdish forces affiliated with YPG and pro-regime militiamen in YPG-dominated city of Qamishli 20 April, prompting nearby regime forces to shell Kurdish neighbourhoods in Qamishli. Attacks against IS and JN continued, including four U.S.-led coalition airstrikes near two cities hitting three tactical units and destroying two fighting positions 23 April. Regime held parliamentary elections 13 April; Washington dismissed elections, Russia reiterated agreement that new elections should be held once political process produces new constitution. U.S. President Obama 25 April announced 250 U.S. special forces to be deployed to assist local militia in fight against IS.

Lebanon

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Heightened fears of major escalation of fighting in largest Palestinian refugee camp Aïn el-Helweh following assassination of senior Fatah security official in car bomb attack in Saida 12 April. Month saw series of clashes between Fatah and radical Islamists in Aïn el-Helweh; Fatah member killed in gunfire 1 April. Efforts of Palestinian groups to contain deteriorating situation challenged by internal rivalries including within Fatah, radicalism stoked by al-Qaeda and Islamic State, financial pressures on UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and Palestinian refugees’ longstanding grievances. Court 8 April re-sentenced former Information Minister Michel Samaha, arrested in 2012 on terror charges and released on bail in Jan, to thirteen years’ prison; retrial followed Samaha’s original shorter sentence handed down by military tribunal May 2015 after he confessed to transporting explosives. Parliament again failed to elect new president 18 April due to lack of quorum. Army reportedly killed leader of Islamic State in Arsal 28 April.

Jordan

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Police 13 April raided and sealed offices of largest opposition party, Muslim Brotherhood (MB), in Amman and other places in following days, reportedly implementing judicial decisions to transfer properties from MB, which lost license in 2015, to rival splinter faction Muslim Brotherhood Society; MB said closures illegal.

Israel/Palestine

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged

Israeli soldier charged with manslaughter 18 April over 24 March killing of wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron who no longer posed threat; case dividing Israeli public opinion. Attacks by Palestinians targeting Israelis continued, including Palestinian assailant who attacked soldiers with axe in W Bank 14 April and was subsequently shot dead. Tensions at Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade increased around Passover, but Israel and Jordan’s rigorous implementation of quiet commitments on access allowed calm to prevail at site; amid fears of renewed violence Israel 22-23 April closed entry points between W Bank, Gaza and Israel. Bomb exploded on bus in Jerusalem 18 April injuring 23; officials said Hamas responsible. PM Netanyahu 11 April announced Israel had conducted dozens of aerial attacks in Syria to prevent Hizbollah obtaining strategic weapons and will continue to do so, did not specify the timeframe or what kind of strikes; 17 April convened cabinet on occupied Golan Heights, announced Israel would hold Golan “forever”, prompting condemnation including from Germany, U.S. and Iran. Negotiations ongoing since March between heads of Israeli army and Palestinian security forces made progress over gradual transfer of full authority to PA in W Bank’s “Area A”: agreed in principle on short trial period for authority to be transferred to PA in all W Bank cities; implementation date remains unclear. France continued diplomatic effort to convene international conference 30 May without Israeli or Palestinian participation; Israel slammed initiative, announcing any diplomatic efforts other than bilateral negotiations would only distance Palestinians from direct negotiations. PA 7 April attempted to advance UNSC resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction. Israeli security officials 20 April said six alleged members of Jewish extremist cell operating in W Bank arrested. Israeli forces 18 April uncovered tunnel from Gaza into Israel.

Western Sahara

  |  1 Apr 2016

Deteriorated
Tensions between Morocco and UN spiked after UNSG Ban early March referred to “occupation” of Western Sahara during visit to Polisario Front-controlled Bir Lehlou in Western Sahara and refugee camps in Algeria. Morocco 8 March accused Ban of bias; hundreds of thousands protested 13 March in Rabat. Morocco 16 March announced $3mn cut for MINURSO peacekeeping mission; 20 March expelled over 80 civilian MINURSO staff from Western Sahara; next day asked UN to close its military liaison office in Western Sahara; called these decisions “irreversible”. Polisario Front 17 March said Morocco intended to end MINURSO mission, which would hasten “resumption of war”. UN spokesman 28 March said Ban regrets “misunderstanding”, UN remains neutral; Morocco 29 March rejected UN explanation, claimed Ban’s words were premeditated but said it was ready to engage in dialogue with UN.

Yemen

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged Resolution Opportunity

Ceasefire agreements and commitment to talks in April raised hopes for possible de-escalation of conflict. Saudia Arabia and Huthis early March agreed to halt hostilities along Yemen-Saudi Arabia border and exchanged prisoners, nine Saudis for 109 Yemenis; agreement paved way for wider negotiations. UN envoy 23 March said cessation of hostilities between govt and Huthi/Saleh bloc would begin 10 April, followed by talks in Kuwait one week later. Violence continued elsewhere: anti-Huthi forces 12 March captured territory in southern Taiz area, partially breaking siege on Taiz city, but Huthi/Saleh forces reportedly regained much lost territory late March. Saudi-led coalition airstrike in NW Hajjah governorate 15 March killed 119 civilians, including 22 children. Coalition spokesman 17 March said major combat operations ending soon. Gunmen 4 March attacked nursing home in Aden, killing sixteen civilians. Government forces 12-13 March fought al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Aden’s Mansoura district, reportedly regained control of parts of Mansoura 30 March. U.S. 22 March launched airstrike on AQAP training camp near Mukalla, killing over 50 militants, suspected drone strike 30 March reportedly killed four AQAP militants. Three suicide bombers 25 March attacked checkpoints in Aden killing 26, injuring dozens, Islamic State claimed responsibility.

Jordan

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged

Security forces 1 March raided suspected Islamic State (IS) cell in northern Irbid, killed seven militants, seized weapons, ammunition and explosives, reportedly foiled planned attack; one security force member killed.

Tunisia

  |  1 Apr 2016

Deteriorated

At least 50 Islamic State (IS) militants 7 March stormed Ben Guerdane, 30km from Libyan border, attempting to overwhelm key security installations; reportedly called for insurrection of local population, tried to distribute weapons. Several hundred armed forces eliminated around 40 fighters in ensuing battle, ten more (mostly Tunisians) killed over following days; thirteen security personnel and seven civilians died during clashes. Intelligence sources suggest attack long-planned, brought forward after 19 Feb U.S. strike on IS training camp in Libya in which 49 suspected militants were killed, mostly Tunisians. Authorities 22 March reopened border crossings with Libya after two-week closure. President Essebsi 22 March said state of emergency imposed following Nov 2015 bomb attack on bus in Tunis extended for three months.

Iraq

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Battle against Islamic State (IS) in Anbar (W) and Ninewa (NW) provinces continued. U.S.-led coalition postponed operation to take Falluja in Anbar province as alliance between local tribes, clerics and IS remains solid. Iraqi forces with local support 13 March launched offensive on Hit, NW of Ramadi in Anbar province; operation gained ground but ongoing end-month. Officials said IS launched two chemical attacks 9 and 12 March on Taza town south of Kirkuk city reportedly wounding nearly 600 people. IS rocket attack on U.S. Makhmour base south of Mosul 19 March killed one marine, wounded several. U.S. 25 March said it would increase troops in Iraq, likely to help Iraqi forces retake villages in Ninewa plain. IS suicide bomber 25 March killed at least 41 people at stadium in Iskandariya, Babel province, south of Baghdad. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr led thousands in ongoing weekly protests in Baghdad calling for govt reforms and for PM Abadi to announce new cabinet line-up; Abadi promised reforms 29 March. U.S. officials late Feb warned of dangers posed by deteriorating condition of Mosul dam. Amid financial crisis Kurdistan Regional Govt (KRG) 11 March restarted oil exports after three-week break.

Iran

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged

Revolutionary Guards 8 March conducted ballistic missile tests, prompting U.S. and France to threaten new sanctions for what they view as violation of UNSC resolution 2231; Iran’s UN ambassador 23 March denied violation, Russia promised to block new sanctions. Despite U.S. blacklisting of two more Iranian companies connected to missile program 24 March, Revolutionary Guards 28 March said Iran would pursue ballistic missile development. Supreme Leader Khamenei 30 March said missiles key to Iran’s future. President Rouhani 6 March argued for removal of ban on media coverage of former President Khatami and for electoral reform to weaken Guardian Council (GC)’s role in vetting parliamentary and Assembly of Experts candidates. GC late March disqualified reformist woman MP Minoo Khaleghi elected in Feb. Govt 26 March denied supporting cyber-attacks against U.S. after New York court 24 March indicted seven Iranians for hacking banks and dam in the U.S.. Rouhani made first visit since becoming president in 2013 to Pakistan 26-27 March.

Bahrain

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Police 14 March arrested and detained activist Zainab al-Khawaja on several charges, including tearing up pictures of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Hundreds protested against regime in several places 14 March; in some areas police fired tear gas, demonstrators threw petrol bombs.

Libya

  |  1 Apr 2016

Deteriorated Risk Alert
UN-backed PM Serraj 30 March arrived by sea in Tripoli after U.S. and several European countries 13 March recognised new Govt of National Accord (GNA) as only legitimate govt without waiting for formal vote of endorsement of Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) and without official backing of country’s military factions. Tripoli-based PM Khalifa Ghweil 15 March said he would consider GNA operating in capital illegal, 27 March closed city’s airport, allegedly to prevent arrival of GNA members, while Tobruk-based govt 18 March warned that moves to impose GNA risk deepening crisis. Commanders of armed brigades in Tripoli 23 March rejected GNA and denounced efforts to bring it to capital. Pro- and anti-GNA militias clashed in Tripoli 28 March. UN envoy Martin Kobler 30 March urged “peaceful and orderly handover of power”. Foreign backers of UN process giving contradictory signals: Egyptian President Sisi 17 March urged Western countries to support eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) of anti-GNA General Haftar, which in late Feb made advances in Benghazi against forces allied to Benghazi Shura Council coalition of Islamist militias; Special Forces from several Western and regional powers allegedly provided support to LNA in Benghazi. New Islamic State (IS) leader in Libya Abdul Qadr al-Najdi 10 March said group gaining strength. Suspected IS militants 14 March attacked water plant 80km from major Sarir oil field. Kobler 17 March said situation “going from bad to worse”, warned of IS expansion.

Syria

  |  1 Apr 2016

Improved
Russian President Putin 14 March announced Russia would withdraw “main part” of assets that have conducted operations in Syria since Sept 2015; air and naval bases near Syrian coast to remain to continue monitoring “cessation of hostilities” and support fight against “terrorists”.  Putin 17 March said Russia could increase military presence “within a few hours” if needed. Despite regular breaches in “cessation of hostilities” which began 27 Feb, violence decreased considerably, with Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) 28 March reporting lowest monthly death toll in four years, 174 civilians killed since 27 Feb. Ceasefire violations included clashes between rebels and Kurdish paramilitaries in Aleppo early March; Russian or Syrian airstrike 7 March killed at least nineteen at market in opposition-held Idlib province; SOHR said 33 killed, mostly women and children, reportedly by Syrian regime airstrikes 31 March in opposition stronghold Deir al-Asafir district south east of Damascus. UN-brokered talks resumed 14 March in Geneva: opposition spokesman 15 March said opposition “not against” direct talks with govt; govt delegation 21 March reiterated Assad’s future not part of negotiations. Decrease in violence enabled return of peaceful anti-regime demonstrations in rebel-held areas. Cessation of hostilities and civilian protests increased tensions between Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) and rebels; JN 12 March apprehended and raided U.S. and Turkey-backed faction in Idlib province, sparking days of local anti-JN protests. Kurdish YPG/PYD 16 March announced plan for federal region in N Syria, generating widespread criticism from both regime and opposition and leading to limited clashes between YPG and regime forces in Qamishli 16 March. Attacks against Islamic State (IS) and JN, excluded from truce, continued including six U.S.-led coalition airstrikes near three cities destroying IS positions. Regime forces backed by Russian airstrikes recaptured IS-held city Palmyra 27 March.

Egypt

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
President Sisi 22 March convened emergency security meeting, called for complete coordination between army and police after recent uptick in militant attacks in N Sinai, where incidents included: two members of security forces and medic killed in ambush 6 March; roadside bomb killed two police 7 March; at least five soldiers killed in attack on base 16 March; fifteen police killed and three reportedly taken hostage 19 March in attack claimed by Islamic State (IS) affiliate. Security forces registered some successes, including: 20 suspected militants reported killed in airstrike 1 March; fighter jets 9 March targeted IS affiliate training camp, leaving seventeen dead. Egyptian-led committee investigating Oct 2015 crash of Russian passenger plane in Sinai said it was referring case to Egypt’s attorney general, giving first indication it suspects plane was brought down intentionally. PM Sherif Ismail 23 March announced cabinet reshuffle, ten new ministers including finance and investment sworn in; govt 27 March presented program of economic and other reforms to parliament, said any spending cuts will be accompanied by protection net for poor. Central Bank mid-March devalued Egyptian pound 15%; move welcomed by many to fight black market trading, but concerns about impact on inflation. Judicial commission 18 March ordered freezing assets of four rights activists, including investigative journalist Hossam Bahgat and lawyer Gamal Eid, on charges they received $1.5mn from foreign parties; Cairo Criminal Court 24 March postponed decision to 20 April. UN human rights chief 23 March expressed grave concern over prosecutions of human rights defenders and shutdown of civil society.

Lebanon

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries took several measures against Lebanon and Hizbollah following Saudi Arabia’s Feb suspension of $3bn in military aid, reportedly due to Lebanon’s failure to condemn Jan attack on Saudi embassy in Iran and “hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hizbollah on the State”. GCC 2 March designated Hizbollah a terrorist organisation; Saudi interior ministry 13 March warned of “severe penalties” for anyone linked to Hizbollah; throughout month GCC countries expelled dozens of Lebanese citizens over alleged Hizbollah ties. Hizbollah 3 March condemned GCC’s terrorist label, blamed Saudi Arabia. Arab League 11 March declared Hizbollah a terrorist group. U.S. officials 8 March warned Saudi Arabia against further economic measures against Lebanon. Parliament failed again to elect new president 2 and 23 March due to lack of quorum; UNSC 17 March urged parties to put country’s stability and national interests before partisan politics. Army clashed with suspected militants 10 March near Syrian border, one soldier and eight gunmen killed. Removal of garbage from Beirut suburbs began 19 March, after govt 12 March approved emergency plan to temporarily reopen Naameh landfill. Minister of Justice Ashraf Rifi resigned 21 Feb, accusing Hizbollah of obstructing cabinet’s functioning, offending Saudi Arabia and intervening for release of former minister Michel Samaha, who was released on bail in Jan after being convicted on terror charges.

Algeria

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Army 10 March killed three al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) militants including emir Abou Hatim, in El Oued near Tunisian border and seized significant weapons cache; 21 March killed six suspected militants also in El Oued. Militants 18 March fired grenades at gas plants at In Salah field in Krechba area, Ghardaia province, no reported casualties; AQIM claimed responsibility, army reportedly killed four militants responsible. Police 23 March shot dead militant wearing suicide belt in Maatkas near Tizi Ouzou. Security forces 26 March killed three suspected militants in Tizi Ouzou. Dozens of sub-Saharan African migrants injured in clashes with Algerians in western Bechar 25 March.

Israel/Palestine

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Attacks by Palestinians targeting Israelis continued, increasingly perpetrated in pairs or trios using improvised live arms; attacks since Oct 2015 increasingly being referred to as third intifada, with death toll now standing at nearly 200 Palestinians and 30 Israelis in some 300 incidents. Amid rising domestic criticism of Israeli govt over failure to address attacks, cabinet 10 March decided to continue construction of separation barrier, despite objections from Jewish settlers who would fall on eastern side, and objections from defence establishment on barrier’s route. PM Netanyahu 2 March also asked attorney general to examine possibility of expelling Palestinian assailants’ families to Gaza. Senior UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned Israeli soldier’s “apparent extra-judicial execution” of wounded Palestinian assailant accused of involvement in stabbing attack on Israeli soldier in W Bank 24 March. France led attempts to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations: French envoy Pierre Vimont 13 March travelled to Ramallah and Jerusalem to hear parties’ views. International conference without parties planned for April, another with parties planned for June; Palestinian officials said they would attend. Germany and France 16 March criticised Israel’s decision to appropriate large tracts of land in W Bank; EU said decision raised questions over Israel’s commitment to two-state solution. Several rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel 11 March; two Palestinian children killed 12 march in retaliatory Israeli airstrikes. Israel 10 March announced Gazans wishing to leave territory would be permitted to leave via Jordan if they promised not to return for at least one year. Hamas delegation from Gaza permitted to travel to Cairo to meet Egyptian General Intelligence Service. Protests by Palestinian teachers seeking wage increase suspended after Palestinian Authority mid-March agreed to increase salaries with back pay.

Western Sahara

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Morocco suspended contact with EU institutions 25 Feb over a Dec European Court of Justice decision to void trade deal because it included disputed Western Sahara territory. EU appealed decision 23 Feb, Morocco believed to have objected to wording of appeal. UN spokesman said UNSG Ban would travel to Moroccan capital and Western Sahara later in the year rather than during regional tour planned for March.

Tunisia

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

President Essebsi consulted with former and current prominent political figures on how to avoid political crisis, following social unrest 16-22 Jan at level unseen since 2010-2011. Protests called for action on youth unemployment, regional inequalities and clientelism in filling public-sector jobs, also calls for new govt. Amid political pressure from opposition including dissident wing of Nida Tounes party, govt reportedly considering replacing PM Essid. Authorities 4 Feb lifted curfew imposed 22 Jan. Essebsi 21 Feb said state of emergency imposed following Nov 2015 bomb attack on bus that killed twelve in Tunis extended for another month until 22 March. Construction of barrier along border with Libya completed 6 Feb. FM Jhinaoui 14 Feb declared opposition to international intervention against Islamic State (IS) in Libya. U.S. strike on IS training camp in Libya 19 Feb reportedly killed 39 Tunisians, including extremist leader believed to be behind 2015 Tunis and Sousse attacks. UK announced it will send troops to help stop IS crossing into Tunisia from Libya.

Libya

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Efforts to form Govt of National Accord (GNA) remain unsuccessful. Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) 23 Feb postponed by one week vote on slimmed-down cabinet of thirteen ministers plus five ministers of state, presented by Presidency Council 15 Feb after HoR 25 Jan rejected first cabinet line-up. PM-designate Serraj’s renewed nomination for defence minister of Benghazi army commander Mahdi al-Barghathi triggered opposition from supporters in HoR of eastern strongman General Haftar; inclusion of two former senior officials from Qadhafi regime provoked resentment among constituencies in western Libya initially supportive of UN-led mediation, now calling for removal of Serraj and reshuffling of presidential council. Illegal war economy becoming further entrenched amid plummeting state reserves, weakening Libyan dinar black market exchange rate and rising living costs; protesters in Shahat 7 Feb denounced deteriorating living conditions including blackouts, shortages of cash, bread, and fuel; UN humanitarian coordinator 22 Feb said country faces severe medicine shortages. Erratic violence continued. Eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) 23 Feb said it had taken control of Benghazi’s Boatni and Laithi districts and claimed advances in several other areas, despite two LNA MIGs crashing/being shot down over Derna and Benghazi early Feb. U.S. airstrike against suspected Islamic State (IS) training camp near Sabratha 19 Feb killed around 40 people. Clashes between IS affiliates and fighters loyal to Tripoli-based govt from Sabratha and nearby cities left dozens dead over following days, including some eleven security officers beheaded by IS supporters in Sabratha police station. UN human rights chief late Feb reported all sides committing human rights abuses possibly amounting to war crimes.

Egypt

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Hundreds protested outside Cairo security directorate 18 Feb after policeman shot dead civilian; policeman held responsible reportedly detained. Thousands of doctors 12 Feb protested against police abuses following accusations policemen beat two doctors in Cairo 28 Jan. Missing Italian student found dead outside Cairo 3 Feb with signs of torture; interior minister 8 Feb denied allegations security forces responsible. President Sisi 19 Feb told interior minister to crack down on police abuse. In first address to new parliament Sisi 13 Feb praised transition but noted problems including slow economy and extremism. In 24 Feb speech Sisi railed against “unjustified” media criticism of govt, said national unity, not democracy, should be priority. Two suspected militants killed in police raid in Cairo 3 Feb; police 7 Feb shot dead four suspected members of militant group Ajnad Misr near Cairo. Gunmen 16 Feb opened fire on checkpoint in southern Cairo, one policeman killed. Health ministry 17 Feb ordered closure of prominent human rights organisation for allegedly violating permit; prominent rights activist Hossam Bahgat banned from traveling 23 Feb. Court 3 Feb overturned death sentences for 149 Muslim Brotherhood supporters, ordered retrial.

Algeria

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Parliament 7 Feb overwhelmingly approved constitutional amendments proposed by President Bouteflika; 74 amendments include reinstating two-term limit for president, making Tamazight an official language and banning binationals from senior govt posts. Head of leading human rights organisation and five trade unionists arrested at peaceful meeting early Feb. Defence Ministry reported soldiers 17 Feb killed two suspected terrorists in Douar Bousmail.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Govt sought to increase involvement in military action against Islamic State (IS) in Syria; U.S. Sec Defence Carter welcomed 4 Feb announcement by spokesman for Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen that govt is ready to take part in ground operations in Syria. Defence ministry adviser 13 Feb confirmed aircraft sent to airbase in Turkey; U.S. 16 Feb said Saudi Arabia took part in airstrikes against IS, did not say where. Brigadier General al-Assiri 2 Feb said Yemeni rebels killed or injured 375 civilians in Saudi border regions since Saudi-led military operations in Yemen began March last year (see Yemen). Air force 8 Feb shot down ballistic missile from Yemen. HRW report 14 Feb said evidence indicates Saudi Arabia fired banned U.S.-made cluster munitions in Yemen civilian areas. Govt 22 Feb reportedly put 32 people on trial accused of spying for Iran including 30 Shiite minority members. Protests held 11 Feb in Shia-majority Qatif district over govt’s Jan execution of prominent Shia cleric.

Yemen

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Military stalemate persists as disagreement over ceasefire conditions stalls next round of UN talks. Saudi Arabia-backed pro-govt forces early month launched offensive in north to capture territory from Huthis; fighting continues over and around the strategic Fardhat Nihm military base, 70km NE of rebel-held capital Sanaa. UN humanitarian chief 16 Feb criticised all parties for obstructing aid, UN special envoy 17 Feb asked UNSC to push for ceasefire. In south, Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) continued to expand military operations and influence: AQAP early month captured towns in Shebwa and Abyan governorates. Multiple attacks in Aden, govt’s temporary capital: AQAP fighters 8-10 Feb clashed with govt forces; gunmen 16 Feb attempted unsuccessfully to assassinate Aden’s governor and security chief; IS claimed 17 Feb suicide bombing that killed at least thirteen army recruits; gunman 22 Feb killed senior army officer. Suspected U.S. drone strike 14 Feb killed IS leader Jalal Belaidi.

Jordan

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Ahead of 4 Feb donors conference on Syria (see Syria), King Abdullah II said Jordan “at boiling point” as refugee influx – with 635,000 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan, in addition to over a million other Syrians living there according to govt – putting enormous pressure on social services, infrastructure and economy; called for increased international assistance.

Iraq

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Fighting continued in Islamic State (IS) stronghold Fallujah, where Sunni tribesmen and IS fighters clashed 19-20 Feb; fighting reportedly stopped after IS militants detained dozens of civilians, but Iraqi army continued shelling IS on city’s outskirts. Humanitarian situation in Falluja remained critical; Anbar province Governor 1 Feb appealed to U.S.-led coalition for supplies. U.S. reported that coalition airstrikes 21 Feb near Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi and Sinjar hit four IS tactical units; five coalition strikes 27 Feb near Mosul destroyed five fighting positions, other strikes also hit targets near Fallujah, Ramadi, Sinjar. Sunni fighters, backed by Kurdish forces and U.S.-led airstrikes, reportedly retook village from IS in Makhmour district 3 Feb. Officials 8 Feb reported thousands of soldiers deployed to military base near Makhmour district in preparation for operations against IS in Mosul. IS-claimed suicide bombings killed at least 70 in Shiite district of Baghdad 28 Feb, at least 40 in Diyala 29 Feb, and eight security force members at Abu Ghraib checkpoint 29 Feb. Amid popular discontent over govt’s failure to implement anti-corruption reforms, PM Abadi 9 Feb said he would reshuffle cabinet to replace political appointees with technocrats; Moqtada al-Sadr endorsed decision and called for massive demonstration in central Baghdad 26 Feb gathering his supporters and civil society activists. Kurdistan Regional Govt’s (KRG) President Barzani 2 Feb said he would organise non-binding referendum on independence. With region facing worst financial crisis since 2003, govt plan to cut civil servant salaries by 75% sparked wave of protests, especially in Suleymania province.

Iran

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Final results of 26 Feb parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections saw pragmatist candidates dominate in Tehran, taking all 30 contested parliamentary seats. Presidents Rafsanjani and Rouhani received highest number of votes for the Assembly of Experts, 88-member body which will pick next Supreme Leader; two influential hardliners Mohammad Yazdi and Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi lost seats. Conservatives fared better outside capital. Voter turnout reported at 62%. Results come after Guardian Council (GC) disqualified nearly 58% of 12,123 first round candidates for parliament, prompting outcry and behind-the-scenes negotiations led by President Rouhani and parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. GC reinstated 1,500 candidates, but approved list did not include serious radical republican contenders, and few pragmatic republicans. GC also rejected 472 of 631 Assembly of Experts candidates, including major ayatollahs, all sixteen women, and Hassan Khomeini (pragmatic republican and grandson of Islamic Republic’s founder). Nevertheless, former President Khatami and predecessor 21 Feb urged voters to back reformists and moderates. U.S. 18 Feb said Russia’s reported plan to sell fighter planes to Iran without UNSC approval would violate UN arms embargo.

Bahrain

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Police 14 Feb clashed with anti-govt protesters in Sitra marking fifth anniversary of 2011 uprising, arrested several; four U.S. journalists arrested for participating in “riot acts”, released after two days. Eleven charged 8 Feb with forming terrorist group, several allegedly trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Iraqi Hizbollah branch. Secular opposition leader Ibrahim Sharif sentenced 24 Feb to one year prison for inciting hatred. Ambassador to UK 5 Feb said Bahrain ready to deploy troops in Syria against Islamic State.

Syria

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

U.S. and Russian-brokered “cessation of hostilities” took effect 27 Feb, allowing UN to increase aid deliveries to some of estimated 1.7mn people living in besieged and hard-to-reach areas. Truce allows for continued attacks against Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, and both regime and opposition complained of breaches; nevertheless, in first two days violence diminished in much of country. Prior to truce, Russia dramatically intensified airstrikes on areas held by anti-IS opposition in and around Aleppo 2 Feb, prompting opposition representatives to decide against joining proximity talks with regime; UN envoy Staffan de Mistura 3 Feb announced talks on hold. Backed by Russian bombing, pro-regime ground force composed of Syrian army and allied militiamen, Shiite foreign fighters and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard quickly gained ground in Aleppo’s outskirts. Kurdish YPG, also benefitting from Russian support, also attacked rebels N of Aleppo and made significant gains near Turkish border; Turkey responded with artillery strikes on YPG positions. Despite increased Turkish support to its opposition allies, anti-IS rebels’ position in region looking significantly weakened. Pro-regime airstrikes and advances around Aleppo prompted tens of thousands of civilians to flee to Turkish border. IS claimed responsibility for attacks including 21 Feb car bomb attacks in Homs and southern Damascus killing at least 140. International donors 4 Feb pledged over $10bn to support Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.

Lebanon

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

During raid in Arsal near Syrian border, army 3 Feb killed six gunmen and arrested sixteen suspected militants including Islamic State (IS) commander. Hizbollah 2 Feb reportedly killed at least four al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) members in rocket attack outside Arsal. Hizbollah-affiliated media 8 Feb said IS and JN militants clashed on NE border with Syria. Parliament again failed to elect new president 8 Feb due to lack of quorum, despite Jan breakthrough in presidential race with Christian Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea’s withdrawal of candidacy and endorsement of Free Patriotic Movement’s Michel Aoun. Former PM and Future Current movement leader Saad Hariri 15 Feb said he remained committed to backing Marada Movement leader Suleiman Frangieh. Saudi Arabia 19 Feb suspended $3bn in military aid (granted in 2013), reportedly over Lebanon’s failure to condemn Jan attack on Saudi embassy in Iran; 23 Feb urged citizens to leave Lebanon. Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk 25 Feb said regular Future-Hezbollah meetings should be suspended. Court 18 Feb indicted fourteen on terrorism charges, including JN commander. Garbage crisis, which began July 2015, continues.

Israel/Palestine

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Tensions in Israel and West Bank increased with early-Feb cluster of Palestinian attacks on Israelis, following several months’ decline in attacks. Leading Israeli opposition Labour party 8 Feb endorsed “Separation Plan” calling for completion of separation barrier, avoiding construction outside settlement blocks, transfer of civil powers to Palestinian Authority (PA) over areas beyond barrier and excluding many Palestinian villages-turned neighbourhoods in E Jerusalem from city’s municipal boundaries. Following eight attacks in a single day 14 Feb, in which Israeli officials reported five Palestinians shot dead, opposition leader Isaac Herzog said Israel combatting “third Intifada”. Israeli forces 15 Feb raided Amari refugee camp in Ramallah leaving 28 Palestinians with gunshot injuries; same day raided Qalandiya refugee camp in W Bank, arrested local Fatah leader. International Quartet (EU, Russia, U.S. and UN) 12 Feb declared it will write report including recommendations on how to move toward two-state solution. PM Netanyahu 10 Feb announced intention to complete construction of separation barrier. Israeli court 4 Feb jailed two Israeli youths for July 2014 murder of Palestinian teenager. Egypt opened Rafah crossing 13-16 Feb, permitting some 2,000 Palestinians to leave. Hamas and Fatah early-Feb discussed possibility of reconciling by forming national unity govt, scheduling elections and implementing Cairo agreement, however talks appear stalled. W Bank teachers went on strike over wages starting 10 Feb; PA deployed police across Ramallah, set up roadblocks; at least twenty teachers arrested 16 Feb, thousands joined protests 23 Feb. UN and PA 11 Feb made joint appeal for $571m in humanitarian aid to Palestinians. UN special rapporteur on human rights 11 Feb urged Israel to investigate excessive use of force against Palestinians.

Tunisia

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
PM Habib Essid 2 Jan announced cabinet shuffle changing two-thirds of ministers including justice, interior and foreign affairs. Splits in President Essebsi’s Nida Tounes (NT) continued over growing role of president’s son Hafedh Béji Caïd Essebsi’s in party: over two dozen lawmakers resigned 8, 13 Jan. Hafedh Béji Caïd Essebsi sought rapprochement with An-Nahda party, inviting party leader Rached Ghannouchi to NT congress mid-Jan. Following NT resignations, Islamist party An-Nahda became largest party in parliament 11 Jan with 69 seats, although Nida Tounes (now with only 64 seats) continues to lead governing coalition. Social unrest sparked off by protests against unemployment 19-20 Jan spread across country; clashes with police, arson attacks on four police stations, looting of banks and shops, roadblocks reported nights of 18-21 Jan. Nationwide night curfew 22 January helped calm situation.

Libya

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
Setback for implementation of 17 Dec Libya Political Agreement (LPA) and formation of Govt of National Accord (GNA) after some 104 members of Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) 25 Jan rejected cabinet line-up proposed by Presidency Council 18 Jan, asked PM-designate Serraj to resubmit proposal with fewer ministers. Two of nine Presidency Council members opposing new govt suspended their participation from body, then returned after HoR decision. Disagreements persist over HoR’s insistence on removal of Article 8 of LPA regarding transfer of military power to Presidency Council if no agreement reached on Supreme Commander of Armed Forces within twenty days of ratification; Tripoli-based General National Congress 27 Jan said it opposed any change to LPA. Nomination for defence minister of Mahdi al-Barghathi, critic of commander of eastern-based Libyan National Army General Haftar, accelerated splits within army. Islamic State (IS) affiliates increased raids on oil infrastructure, including 4-6 Jan attack on Sidra terminal in Sirte basin, resulting in eleven guards and dozens of militants reported killed; and attacks on nearby Ras Lanuf oil port 7 and 21 Jan. Militants 8-9 Jan attacked power plant in Benghazi. At least 50 killed by truck bomb targeting police academy in Zliten 7 Jan; IS claimed responsibility. IS affiliates consolidated authority in Ben Jawwad town west of Sidra terminal. Deadly fighting reignited between Tebu and Tuareg armed groups in Obari 10 Jan despite local peace deal.

Egypt

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
Parliament 10 Jan convened first session since June 2012, marking official completion of transitional roadmap announced July 2013. Independents form majority of seats reserved for individual candidates, with 318 of 448 seats; 67 seats for largest party Free Egyptians. 120 seats reserved for party-based lists all went to pro-regime “For the Love of Egypt” coalition. Some independent candidates initially refused to swear constitutional oath of loyalty because it praised Jan 2011 revolution, prompting controversy. Parliament set to review hundreds of laws issued by executive decree since July 2013; approved some controversial laws including counter-terrorism law, passed 17 Jan. Violence continued in N Sinai as phase two of counter-insurgency campaign launched early Jan: unidentified attackers fired at police 20 Jan killing five; militants and soldiers clashed 14 Jan, four soldiers and 30 militants reported killed; three police killed by IED 19 Jan; four children killed in fighting 28 Jan; roadside bomb killed two security officials 31 Jan. President Sisi expressed displeasure at non-implementation of development and economic assistance for Sinai early Jan; assured visiting CIA chief John Brennan that Egypt fully in control of peninsula. Attacks in tourist areas in Cairo and Hurghada by Red Sea, where two tourists wounded by gunmen 8 Jan, and three tourists stabbed 9 Jan. Bomb attack 21 Jan killed six including three police in Giza, Muslim Brotherhood blamed. One police, one soldier killed near Cairo 10 Jan; IS claimed responsibility. Heavy security deployed ahead of 25 Jan anniversary of 2011 uprising ending Mubarak’s rule and protests severely curtailed amid crackdown on activists. 

Algeria

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
Cabinet Chief Ahmed Ouyahia 5 Jan unveiled long-awaited draft constitutional reforms: mostly technical revisions include reintroduction of presidential term limitations of two-five years in office, or one re-election; declaration of Tamazight as official language; exclusion of binationals from higher ranks of public office; increased press freedoms; decriminalisation of media offenses. Reforms to be submitted to parliament in several months for final approval. Opposition criticised revisions as insufficient, also restriction of constitutional consultations to small group of president’s supporters. Security forces 12 Jan arrested seven Libyan gunmen in Amenas, seized weapons and three vehicles; defence ministry reported soldiers killed four Islamist gunmen west of capital 29 Jan.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
Regional tensions escalated following execution of 47 convicted of terrorism 2 Jan, including prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, prompting violent demonstrations in Iran targeting Saudi missions (see Iran); protests also in Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq. Al-Qaeda 11 Jan warned retaliation for execution of its members; leader 12 Jan issued message encouraging attacks against Saudi Arabia and Western allies. Mostly peaceful demonstrations against executions in Shia-majority Qatif district in east early Jan; man shot dead as security officers came under fire in Awamiya 4 Jan. Islamic State 5 Jan threatened destruction of prisons detaining jihadis. Two gunmen attacked Shia mosque in Mahasen 29 Jan, at least two killed. Saudi-led coalition continued military operations in Yemen (see Yemen).

Iraq

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
Saudi Arabia’s 2 Jan execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr further polarised region along sectarian lines, complicating Iraqi government efforts to rebuild multilateral relations with its neighbours, particularly Saudi Arabia. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Shiite political forces 3 Jan denounced execution. Following spate of insurgent attacks 11 Jan in which dozens were killed, including IS attacks in Baghdad and Diyala, Shia militiamen reportedly carried out retaliatory attacks against Sunnis in Diyala province. Retaliatory attacks fuelled growing concern over sectarian violence in Diyala, which was cleared of Islamic State (IS) Jan 2015. Despite PM Abadi’s visit to Diyala 14 Jan in attempt to calm tensions, Sunni lawmakers walked out of parliament 19 Jan in protest at attacks and fact that Shia militiamen hold Diyala security file, not govt. Sistani 15 Jan urged unity. Five suicide bombers attacked military base north of Baghdad 3 Jan, fifteen security personnel killed. Coalition airstrikes destroyed IS cash distribution site in Mosul 12 Jan; U.S reported sixteen coalition airstrikes targeted IS 20 Jan, fourteen IS fighting positions in Sinjar destroyed. U.S. 5 Jan said IS-held territory in Iraq decreased by 40% in 2015. Three Americans and one Iraqi kidnapped in Baghdad 15 Jan, Iraqi officials said Shiite militia Asaeb Ahl al-Haq possibly responsible. UN report 19 Jan stated civilian suffering from violence “remains staggering”, at least 18,800 killed Jan 2014-Oct 2015. Amnesty International 20 Jan reported Kurdistan Regional Govt forces possibly committed war crimes in areas captured from IS. Police 26 Jan reported mass grave discovered in Ramadi. Finance ministry 6 Jan announced govt likely unable to pay salaries in 2016 due to financial crisis provoked by sharp drop in oil prices, stoking fears of increasing domestic tensions, strengthening anti-establishment forces such as Shia militias and weakening govt credibility. UN 31 Jan requested additional $861mn for humanitarian crisis.

Yemen

  |  1 Feb 2016

Deteriorated
Fighting intensified as Saudi-backed coalition stepped up air campaign, mostly targeting Sanaa, in response to Huthi/Saleh bloc cross-border incursions and rocket attacks, after ending temporary truce 2 Jan (which in practice was never honoured by either side); UNSC 5 Jan urged warring parties to resume ceasefire. Rights groups accused Saudi-led coalition of dropping cluster munitions in Sanaa 6 Jan. Leaked UN panel of experts report 27 Jan accused Saudi airstrikes of targeting civilians in a “widespread and systematic” manner; Saudi-led coalition 31 Jan said it had launched investigation. Huthi/Saleh forces and Saudi-backed coalition redoubling efforts to gain new territory in disputed areas: Saudi-backed govt forces 6 Jan reportedly landed by sea at Red Sea port of Maydee near border and on 24 Jan landed military vehicles and reinforcements to retake other border territories as well as Red Sea coast from Huthis; battle continued over western parts of Marib province and southern city Taiz, where Huthi/Saleh forces maintained blockade. Yemeni military officers supported by Saudi-led coalition 26 Jan announced preparations to “liberate” Huthi-controlled governorate Dammar, south of Sanaa. UN-sponsored talks scheduled for 14 Jan delayed as both sides made new demands for restarting negotiations: Huthis calling for ceasefire and Hadi govt insisting Huthis lift siege of Taiz, release additional political prisoners. Huthis 14 Jan released detained minister and four activists in move aimed at renewing ceasefire. Escalating regional tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran further complicated peace prospects (see Iran). Iran 7 Jan accused Saudi Arabia of airstrike on its embassy in Sanaa; Riyadh denied. Lawlessness and expansion of jihadi groups continued to plague south, particularly Aden; car bomb 17 Jan reportedly killed ten outside Aden security chief’s home; another suicide car bombing 28 Jan killed at least eleven outside presidential palace.

Iran

  |  1 Feb 2016

Improved

IAEA 16 Jan confirmed Iran has honoured commitments under July 2015 nuclear deal, triggering rollback of all nuclear-related UN, EU and U.S. sanctions. U.S. 17 Jan announced new sanctions on eleven entities and individuals involved in Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests, hours after U.S. and Iran announced prisoner exchange, ending fourteen months of secret negotiations. Countries also resolved long-standing financial dispute. Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr 2 Jan, along with 46 others convicted of terrorism, provoked backlash in Iran, where govt condemned executions, Supreme Leader Khamenei warned Saudi Arabia will suffer “divine retribution”. Mobs hijacked protests in front of Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and NE city Mashhad; Riyadh 3 Jan severed diplomatic relations with Tehran and cut all economic ties; allies followed suit including Bahrain, Sudan and others; Kuwait and UAE downgraded relations. Govt uniformly condemned attacks on Saudi missions, reportedly arrested over fifty suspected of storming embassy and held security officials to account for failing to protect diplomatic properties. Revolutionary Guards 13 Jan released ten U.S. sailors detained previous day when U.S. Navy patrol boats drifted into Iran’s territorial waters.

Bahrain

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Police 6 Jan seized suspected Iranian-linked cell reportedly planning attacks in Bahrain. Several clashes between protestors and security forces after Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shia cleric early Jan, including west of Manama and in Sitra. Demonstrations erupted across country 13 Jan demanding release of Sheikh Salman, head of main opposition group al-Wefaq, detained Dec 2014 and charged with attempting to overthrow Al Khalifah regime.

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