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CrisisWatch Database

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Libya

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Fighting between Islamist leaning Misrata-led militia coalition and anti-Islamist Zintan-led coalition continued in Tripoli, UN attempt to broker ceasefire failed mid-month; Misrata-led forces 23 Aug captured Tripoli’s international airport and Zintanis withdrew from the capital, but armed confrontations likely to continue. Fighting fuelled by instalment of new parliament, Council of Representatives (CoR), in eastern city Tobruk: 158 of 188 newly elected MPs 4 Aug convened for swearing-in ceremony; pro-Misrata factions disputed relocation from Tripoli, claimed transfer of authority to new parliament unconstitutional, CoR biased against Islamist factions; appealed to Supreme Constitutional Court. Former parliament General National Congress (GNC) 25 Aug reconvened in Tripoli, elected Islamist backed Omar al-Hasi PM in challenge to CoR’s authority. Acting PM al-Thinni 28 Aug announced resignation to allow CoR to form new govt. Multiple unidentified air strikes through month targeting Islamist positions; U.S. officials late month said Egypt and UAE responsible, Egypt denied involvement. Fighting between former General Hiftar’s forces and Islamist militants continued in Benghazi. UNSC 27 Aug imposed sanctions on individuals fuelling the fighting, ordered all arms transfers to be approved by UN sanctions committee.

Yemen

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

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

Iraq

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated

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

Syria

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated

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

Lebanon

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated

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

Israel/Palestine

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated

Fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed 19 Aug after 3 consecutive ceasefires over previous 9 days: more than 2100 mostly civilian Palestinians, at least 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians inside Israel killed since early July; Israel limited renewed campaign to air strikes, avoiding another ground operation. Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement reached 26 Aug; reportedly called for limited lifting of Gaza travel and trade restrictions; major issues including building of Gaza seaport, release of Palestinian prisoners deferred to later discussions. Hamas denied Israel’s claim Gaza militants broke ceasefire 19 Aug; 5 killed in Israeli air strike same day including wife and child of Mohammad Deif, leader of Hamas’s military wing; 3 senior Hamas commanders killed 21 Aug. Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli army in W Bank continued, at least 20 Palestinians reported killed since early July.

Iran

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

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

Algeria

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

200 Syrian migrants detained 18 Aug in Oued Laâlemga near Libyan border, reportedly en route to Italy aided by Libyan Islamists. Army 12 Aug reportedly killed 2 militants in Ouled Riah.

Egypt

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

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

Mauritania

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

President Mohamed Abdel Aziz sworn-in for second term 2 Aug; 2 members of youth opposition movement Kafana, including leader Jacob Ahmad, arrested by security forces 5 Aug over anti-Aziz graffiti.

Tunisia

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

Optimism prevailed throughout month following late July “Gentlemen’s Agreement” on political party behaviour before and after elections, despite worries Oct election could re-ignite tensions. 1,500 electoral lists containing over 15,000 candidates submitted by 29 Aug deadline according to Independent High Electoral Commission (ISIE). Situation remained under control on eastern border, refugee influx from Libyan fighting stable (see Libya); approximately 3,000 Egyptians crossed daily, evacuated to Egypt with Tunisian cooperation. Security remained tense on Algerian border: suspected jihadis 2 Aug killed soldier manning border post; 2 others wounded by landmine in same area 16 Aug. Police 23 Aug killed 2 women mistaken for members of armed group near Kasserine. Interior ministry 7 Aug said 21 Ansar al-Sharia members allegedly plotting terror attack arrested in Tunis.

Western Sahara

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

Polisario Front leader Mohamed Abdelaziz 18 Aug sent letter to UN condemning Moroccan military deployment in Western Sahara, continued expulsion of journalists and human rights activists.

Libya

  |  1 Aug 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Insecurity deepened as clashes between security units, militias left scores dead; fragmentation of newly elected parliament enhanced concerns over govt’s inability to tackle security challenges; first parliamentary session scheduled to take place in Benghazi early Aug, reportedly moved to Tobruk over security concerns. At least 94 reported killed 13-27 July in fighting between Zintan militia and security units affiliated with Islamist-leaning Libya Revolutionaries’ Operation Room (LROR) over control of Tripoli airport. Govt 28 July called for international help to fight oil tanker fires in Tripoli harbour set ablaze by fighting, rival militias 30 July agreed on temporary ceasefire to allow firefighters to try to control blaze. At least 75 reported killed mid- to late July in Benghazi during clashes between different govt forces and militias; Islamists seized control of Special Forces base 28 July in battle killing over 50. Former General Hiftar 31 July denied Islamist claims of complete control over Benghazi; Ansar al-Sharia 30 July declared city an “Islamic emirate”. UN staff 14 July pulled out of country due to increasing violence; U.S., several other embassies evacuated throughout month; UK embassy convoy attacked 26 July on road to Tunisia, no casualties; several countries announced plans to evacuate nationals. Acting PM al-Thinni reportedly prevented from flying to Tobruk by militia controlling Mitiga airport 24 July. FM Abdel Aziz 18 July appealed to UNSC for help in tackling security problem; UNSC statement 23 July stressed need for political solution.

Syria

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged Risk Alert

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

Israel/Palestine

  |  1 Aug 2014

Deteriorated

Israel 8 July launched "Operation Protective Edge" in Gaza: more than 1400 Palestinians, 64 Israelis, including 61 soldiers, reported killed throughout month. Escalation followed June kidnapping and murder of 3 Israeli youths in W Bank and 2 July revenge torture and murder of Palestinian teen by vigilante Israelis in E Jerusalem. Israel held Hamas responsible for triple murder, launched air strikes 1 July following discovery of bodies previous day; several Hamas militants killed in air strikes in days leading up to announcement of army operation. Israel mid-month started ground operations; Hamas launched rockets, used tunnels in attempts to attack Israeli communities near Gaza. Attempts at reaching ceasefire agreement failed throughout July: proposals by Egypt rejected by Hamas, Qatar-led proposal rejected by Israel. Egypt proposed cessation of hostility as prerequisite for negotiation of long-term ceasefire; Hamas insisted on agreeing to ceasefire modalities before halting rocket fire, said aspects left undecided during fighting would never be addressed. 3-day humanitarian ceasefire announced 1 Aug reportedly collapsed same day. Several Palestinians reported killed by Israeli army during protests in W Bank including 8 killed in separate incidents 24-25 July; another killed by suspected settler 25 July. 4 reported killed in Israeli air strikes in S Syria 15 July following cross-border rocket fire. Rocket attacks, shelling across Lebanese border mid-month, no casualties (see Lebanon).

Iraq

  |  1 Aug 2014

Deteriorated

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

Lebanon

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

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

Bahrain

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

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

Iran

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

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

Yemen

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

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

Algeria

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Govt forces mid-month reportedly killed 6 suspected AQIM members, arrested 1. PM Abdelmalek Sellal 22 July met Tunisian counterpart following killing of at least 14 Tunisian soldiers by gunmen near border (see Tunisia); countries launched joint military operations including 8,000 Algerian troops. Govt 22 July announced plan to tackle crisis in southern town of Ghardaia following months of clashes between Arab and Mozabite Berbers killing 10 and damaging over 1,400 buildings.

Egypt

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

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

Mauritania

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Parliament 2 July passed anti-terrorism law.

Tunisia

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Govt forces stepped up operations against militants in west: at least 14 soldiers, 1 attacker reported killed 16 July in Mount Chambi area near Algerian border; 2 soldiers killed 26 July in El Kef region. Govt 17 July created new anti-terrorist agency; 19 July announced 63 suspected terrorists arrested in El Kef, Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine provinces. Around 40 mosques, 1 radio station, 1 TV station closed down by govt 20 July over alleged Islamist radicalism. FM Mongi Hamdi 30 July warned of possible border closure following Libya unrest, said UN presence requested.

Yemen

  |  1 Jul 2014

Deteriorated

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

Israel/Palestine

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged Risk Alert

Killing of 3 Israeli youths in W Bank increased Israeli-Palestinian tensions: students found dead 30 June following mid-month kidnapping; Israeli PM Netanyahu claimed Hamas complicit, vowed retaliation, mid-month launched aggressive arrest campaign in W Bank, largest since 2003; 5 Palestinians killed, international response muted. PA “reconciliation” govt formed 2 June: Israel objected despite absence of Hamas ministers, senior positions being mostly filled by members of previous govt and all ministers having accepted Quartet principles, announced plans to build 1,500 new housing units in W Bank and E Jerusalem settlements; move met with international condemnations. Israel continued siege of Gaza; 5 reported killed in Israeli air strike mid- to late month. New PA govt stopped paying salaries to 43,000 govt employees in Gaza, causing unprecedented financial crisis. Likud’s Reuven Rivlin elected president of Israel 10 June despite PM Netanyahu’s objections; Rivlin supports annexing entire W Bank, naturalising Palestinian inhabitants. 1 Israeli killed in cross-border attack from Syria 22 June; Israel blamed Syrian regime, retaliated killing at least 4.

Iraq

  |  1 Jul 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

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

Lebanon

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

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

Syria

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

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

Iran

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

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

Algeria

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Govt forces 4 June killed alleged terrorist in Bouira town; 11 suspected militants arrested mid-month by security forces in El Oued province. 11 policemen injured during unrest in Ghardaia town 8 June following clashes between Malekite and Ibadite communities. Several public buildings torched, 12 people injured 20 June in communal violence in Beriane town.

Egypt

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

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

Libya

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Supreme Court 9 June ruled PM Ahmed Maiteeq’s appointment illegal; Maiteeq resigned same day; power restored to interim PM al-Thinni despite parts of General National Congress (GNC) opposing him over previous involvement with controversial militia leaders. Ousted PM Zeidan mid-June returned to country after having fled in March, announced plan to challenge dismissal in court. UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) cancelled political dialogue initiative scheduled 18-19 June due to opposition by liberal factions. Parliamentary elections held 25 June: 13 of 200 seats expected to remain unfilled following security challenges and boycotts, low turnout reported. At least 5 killed in election-day clashes between govt forces and militants in Benghazi; gunmen same day killed prominent political activist Salwa Bughaghis in Benghazi. Car bomb detonated in front of Constituent Assembly in Bayda 26 June, 2 injured. Clashes between Ansar al-Sharia and former General Khalifa Hiftar’s forces continued in and around Benghazi: 19 killed, 82 injured 1-2 June; at least 8 killed 15 June; Hiftar injured, 3 killed in assassination attempt 4 June; missiles fired on Benghazi airport, Tobruk military HQ mid-June. Influential cleric Sheikh Sadeq al-Ghariyani 9 June called on Libyans to fight Hiftar and his allies. Senior Ansar al-Sharia member Ahmed Abu Khattala, suspected of involvement in Sept 2012 U.S. embassy attack, captured 15 June by U.S. Special Forces in Benghazi.

Mauritania

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz re-elected 21 June with 82% of vote, turnout reportedly 56%; election boycotted by most opposition parties. Runner-up Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid 24 June accused govt of fraud, filed appeal at constitutional council; council 29 June rejected appeal, confirmed Aziz’s victory. Former President Ely Ould Mohamed Vall 17 June urged non-recognition of “farcical” elections.

Tunisia

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Following 13 June agreement by participants in National Dialogue, election commission announced parliamentary elections to be held in Oct ahead of presidential election in Nov, in line with sequence preferred by Islamist An-Nahda party. Security situation remained tense: 2 alleged jihadis killed 12 June by govt forces in Jendouba town; 2 civilians injured 11 June in IED attack in Mount Selloum close to Kasserine town; govt 3 June announced arrest of 14 alleged members of terrorist cell in Gafsa town. Interior minister 6 June called for allowing army to support regular security forces in cities. AQIM 13 June claimed responsibility for 27 May attack on interior minister’s family home that killed 4 police. Committee tasked with investigating alleged state violations of human rights since 1955 established 9 June.

Western Sahara

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Clashes between Moroccan forces and Saharawis continued: dozens injured 15 June during protest in Laayoune calling for human rights mechanism within UN MINURSO mandate. Moroccan authorities 5 June deported 2 Italian journalists for reporting on Saharawi resistance in Laayoune. Several injured 7 June in clash between Saharawis and Morrocan settlers in Dakhla city. Former president of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano appointed new AU special envoy for Western Sahara late month.

Yemen

  |  1 Jun 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

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

Libya

  |  1 Jun 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Libya brought to brink of country-wide military showdown over persistent insecurity and General National Congress (GNC) decision to back Ahmed Maiteeq, widely perceived as backed by Misrata-based Islamist groups, as new PM despite fierce controversy over legality of his 4 May appointment; Maiteeq 25 May obtained disputed GNC vote of confidence. Retired army general Khalifa Hiftar, army units and tribal-backed forces from east 16 May launched military assault including airstrikes against militant Islamist groups in Benghazi; at least 70 killed in fighting; several army units including Benghazi-based Special Forces, Tobruk-based airforce units and Ibrahim Jedran’s Petroleum Guards Force declared support for Hiftar’s operation; Jedran and Hiftar 26 May said did not recognise Maiteeq’s govt; interim PM al-Thinni’s govt also questioned legality of Maiteeq’s appointment. Militia allies 18 May attacked GNC in Tripoli, ordered its suspension; at least 4 killed, dozens injured. Radical Islamist Ansar al-Sharia Benghazi leader al-Zahawi 27 May vowed to battle Hiftar, accused U.S. of supporting him, threatened to bring foreign fighters to Libya. U.S. 28 May issued travel warning, recommended U.S. citizens leave immediately.

Tunisia

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Political calm marred by security incidents: state of emergency declared in south 9 May following violent clashes between inhabitants over agricultural land. Socio-economic protests continued in interior and south. Aziz Amami, blogger and leader of “I burned a police station” movement established to defend young demonstrators on trial for burning police stations during 2011 uprising arrested 12 May on drug charges, charges dismissed 25 May. Human rights groups reported Amani mistreated in custody, said arrest due to police desire for revenge. President Marzouki 6 May raised prospect of presidential pardons for jihadists while visiting Mount Chaambi area, target of ongoing military operations. 2 soldiers killed, 4 injured by landmine in Mount Chaambi 23 May. PM Jomaa 25 May reported terrorist operation targeting national leaders, economic and tourist establishments prevented by security forces. Interior Minister Ben Jeddou’s home in Kasserine, south, attacked late May by suspected Islamist militants, 4 policemen killed. Court 26 May ordered dissolution of vigilante group League for the Protection of the Revolution. New electoral law officially promulgated 26 May: head of electoral committee said general elections will “probably” take place late-Nov.

Egypt

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

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

Algeria

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Following April re-election, President Bouteflika 5 May named new cabinet, opposition refused offer to participate; Bouteflika 15 May proposed constitutional amendments including two-term presidential limit, less restrictions on media. Violence continued in south: 12 militants killed by govt forces 5 May in Tamanrasset province. 2 AQIM members killed by govt forces 13 May in Boumerdes province; AQIM 1 May claimed responsibility for Kabylie attack 18-19 April that killed 11 soldiers. Govt 19 May closed border with Lybia, fearing influx of militants.

Iraq

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

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

Iran

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

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

Syria

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

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

Lebanon

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

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

Israel/Palestine

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Palestinian and Israeli leaders traded blame following April peace talks crisis and Fatah-Hamas announcement of formation of unity govt: Israel condemned Palestinian President Abbas for cooperating with Hamas; PLO criticised Israel for advancing settlement construction during talks, not presenting position on borders. Seeking to deter future prisoner releases that accompanied past negotiations, Israeli govt 11 May authorised law which, if passed by Knesset, would allow judges to sentence some prisoners to life imprisonment without parole. PM Netanyahu declared support for controversial law defining Israel as “Nation State of the Jewish People”; passage uncertain. Fatah, Hamas officials 27 May said most ministerial posts in new unity govt agreed on, Abbas 29 May asked PM Hamdallah to form govt. Israeli troops 15 May shot dead 2 Palestinians in W Bank as Palestinians commemorated 1948 war; NGO later released video of killings and claimed they were unprovoked, UN and U.S. urged investigation.

Lebanon

  |  1 May 2014

Improved

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

Israel/Palestine

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Crisis in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations deepened: after Israel late March reneged on pledge to release 30 Palestinian prisoners and 1 April republished tenders for more than 700 housing units in E Jerusalem settlement, Palestinian President Abbas same day signed applications to join 15 international treaties/conventions including Geneva Convention; Israel cancelled cabinet meeting on prisoner release planned for later same day, threatened sanctions. U.S. said disappointed by “unhelpful, unilateral actions” of both parties; spent following weeks trying to broker extension of talks past 29 April deadline, appeared intent on continuing to try. Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas 23 April announced reconciliation deal, promised formation of unity govt; U.S. warned move could complicate efforts to extend negotiations, Israel suspended, rather than ended, talks. PLO quickly shifted to promoting govt of technocrats whose ministers would accept Quartet conditions. Several clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at E Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, including dozens wounded 16 April. Israeli killed in attack on car outside Hebron in W Bank 14 April. Gaza ceasefire, reactivated following breakdown in March, continued to hold despite several violations by both sides; exchanges of rocket fire across border left several Palestinians wounded, including 12 wounded in Israeli strikes 23 April.

Egypt

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

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

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

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

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CrisisWatch N°133

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