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CrisisWatch Database

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1790 results found
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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.

Syria

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva between Assad regime and opposition, scheduled for 25 Jan, delayed until 29 Jan amid dispute over composition of delegations. Main opposition negotiating body 22 Jan refused to attend talks unless Assad regime implements UNSC resolution calling for full humanitarian access to besieged areas and end to attacks targeting civilians; as of 31 Jan, opposition delegation present in Geneva, but insisting it would limit participation until humanitarian demands met. Prospects for credible negotiations decreased following escalation of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran early Jan (see Iran). Assad regime and allied forces campaign gained momentum, making progress against anti-Islamic State (IS) rebels south of Aleppo and in Daraa; seized rebel-held towns of Salma 12 Jan, most significant rebel holding in coastal mountains, and Rabiya 24 Jan in Latakia province. Clashes between IS and govt forces over eastern city Deir al-Zour continued. IS bomb attack 26 Jan killed at least 24 in govt-controlled Homs; IS-claimed suicide attack in Damascus 31 Jan killed over 70. Having taken Tishreen dam 30 Dec with U.S. support, Kurdish YPG approaching Menbaj, major IS-held town east of Aleppo. Assad regime and Hizbollah 7 Jan agreed to allow small shipment of humanitarian aid to starving residents of besieged town Madaya near Lebanese border, part of deal that also sent aid to two Idlib towns besieged by rebels.

Lebanon

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Leader Lebanese Forces party Samir Geagea 18 Jan backed rival General Michel Aoun, leader of Christian Free Patriotic Movement, for presidency, now vacant for over twenty months, in move to resolve political crisis. Parliament failed to elect new president again 7 Jan due to lack of quorum. Hizbollah 4 Jan detonated explosive device targeting Israeli army patrol in disputed Shebaa Farms area following alleged Israeli assassination of prominent militant Samir Kuntar late Dec; Israel retaliated with shelling. Authorities 14 Jan released on bail former Information Minister Michel Samaha, arrested Aug 2012 on terrorism charges. Former PM and Future Current leader Saad Hariri criticised release; protesters blocked roads in Beirut. Security forces 14 Jan reportedly arrested senior member of al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigade in anti-terrorist operation in Beirut. Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra clashed in Arsal late Jan.

Israel/Palestine

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Month saw continued Palestinian attacks on Israelis in Jerusalem, West Bank and Israel, increased use of live arms in attacks. Israeli PM Netanyahu 25 Jan ordered army to increase settlement security. Netanyahu 26 Jan accused UNSG Ban of giving “tailwind to terror” after Ban criticised Israeli settlement building. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas 6 Jan announced PA would not be dissolved but replaced by Palestinian state; called for international conference for peace; France 29 Jan proposed international peace summit to renew diplomatic process. PA General Intelligence chief widely criticised by Palestinians after stating 18 Jan that PA security forces prevented over 200 terrorist attacks against Israel since Oct 2015. Amid worsening conditions in Gaza, Hamas and PA continued dispute over opening and control of Rafah border crossing, which remains almost entirely closed. Ongoing talks over rapprochement between Israel and Turkey.

Western Sahara

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Polisario Front 11 December welcomed the European Court of Justice’s 10 December order annulling 2012 European Union and Morocco trade deal due to the inclusion of Western Sahara.

Tunisia

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Govt 1 Dec dismissed five senior officials including sec of state for security and interior ministry’s security chief following Nov bomb attack on bus that killed twelve in Tunis; authorities arrested dozens, placed several suspected militants under house arrest; Interior Ministry said 17,046 arrested in Nov on various charges. State of emergency extended 22 Dec for two months. Two suspected jihadis arrested 4 Dec allegedly planning suicide attacks in Tunis. Govt 21 Dec announced terrorist cell dismantled in Bizerte after anti-terrorist units launched operations against radical Islamist network, four arrested. Tensions between security forces and judges increased as police trade unions blamed judges for releasing terrorist suspects, including perpetrator behind Nov bus attack. Anti-Islamist discourse targeting Ennahda Party intensified. Tensions inside President Essebsi’s party Nida Tounes growing: Gen Sec of Nida Tounes Mohsen Marzouk resigned 15 Dec. Former President Moncef Marzouki claimed “catastrophic” situation in country highlighting poverty issues and jihadi threats, 20 Dec launched new political party. Several protest movements erupted in south amid ongoing conflicts over agricultural lands following imposition of Libyan tax on Tunisian vehicles entering Libya.

Mauritania

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) 7 Dec released a video of Mauritanian and two Malian nationals allegedly confessing to spying for the French and Mauritanian military; all three executed. Govt 11 Dec called for establishment of courts specifically for slavery cases.

Egypt

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Criticisms of security officials’ brutality continued: protests erupted in Luxor following death of man in police custody 1 Dec; President Sisi 3 Dec promised punishment of guilty police officers; nine police arrested 6 Dec in connection with case; two police officers 12 Dec convicted of torturing lawyer accused of links to Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to death in Feb. One soldier killed, four wounded in explosion after military vehicle hit IED in N Sinai 6 Dec; Islamic State affiliate “Sinai Province” claimed responsibility. Army 27 Dec announced security forces killed two suspected militants in N Sinai. Egyptian investigators 14 Dec reported no proof of terrorism behind Russian plane crash in 31 Oct in Sinai. Sisi 31 Dec called for new parliament elected late 2015 to assemble on 10 Jan in 2016, first time since old Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved mid-2012. At least twelve killed, six wounded after firebomb thrown into restaurant in Cairo 4 Dec. Court 3 Dec overturned death sentence and ordered retrial of MB leader Mohamed Badie and 36 co-defendants. 120 supporters of former President Morsi sentenced 7 Dec to two years in prison for rioting in 2013. Researcher Ismail Alexandrani arrested 2 Dec, charged for spreading false news; Committee to Protect Journalists 15 Dec recorded more journalists arrested in 2015 than previous years. Govt 3 Dec opened borders with Gaza strip, following months of closure.

Algeria

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Speculation over who holds true power in presidency continued following President Bouteflika’s 3-5 Dec visit to France for medical check. Bouteflika 14 Dec chaired meeting with ministers and advisors discussing constitutional reforms: President Bouteflika 28 Dec approved draft constitutional revision; National Liberation Front Sec-Gen Amar Saadani 18 Dec said constitutional reforms to be presented next month. FM Ramtane Lamamra 1 Dec said foreign intervention in N Africa may contribute to greater problems rather than be a solution. Defence Ministry publication 28 Dec said 109 alleged terrorists killed, 36 arrested in 2015.

Saudi Arabia

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

At least seventeen women reportedly elected to municipal councils in 12 Dec elections; marked first time women in country allowed to run for public office. Military operations against Huthis in Yemen continued (see Yemen).

Yemen

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Second round of UN-sponsored peace talks between warring parties in Switzerland 15-20 Dec failed to produce diplomatic breakthrough following disagreements over proposed prisoner exchange and repeated violations of a ceasefire; Hadi govt remains focused on implementing UNSC Resolution 2216, Huthi/Saleh bloc on changing govt. Military stalemate continued despite some gains by anti-Huthi forces in the north. Saudi-led coalition 15 Dec announced seven-day ceasefire, immediately broken by both sides; ceasefire announcement came day after coalition airstrikes reportedly killed at least nineteen civilians in north and south. Huthis and aligned military forces increased cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia; rocket attack near Bab al-Mandeb 14 Dec killed dozens of coalition forces, including two senior Saudi and Emirati army commanders. Huthi/Saleh bloc continued blockade of Taiz, repelling ground campaign organised by coalition to capture city. Govt/Saudi-led coalition 15 Dec launched offensive on Huthi strongholds in north, gaining territory in Hajjah, Jawf and Marib and pushing into Sanaa province 21 Dec. Fighting between Huthi/Saleh bloc and govt/Saudi-led coalition 19 Dec killed at least 68 including 28 govt troops and 40 Huthi fighters near NW town of Haradh.

Iraq

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Coalition air-bombings helped government forces to retake central neighbourhoods of Ramadi, Anbar province capital, seized in May by Islamic State (IS), on 28 Dec. Despite Iraqi govt’s celebration, liberation remains incomplete: most govt infrastructure heavily damaged and portions of city remain under IS control. Coordinated assault by IS on Kurdish peshmerga positions near Mosul repulsed by Kurdish forces backed by coalition airstrikes mid-Dec. Regional and international tensions continued as Turkey, with tacit agreement of Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) leadership, deployed some 150-300 soldiers and 25 tanks to Ninewa province, northwest; Russia 7-8 Dec forced Iraqi Kurdistan to shut down its airspace. PM Abadi denounced Turkey’s move as violation of sovereignty, appealed to UN, issued ultimatum for troops to be withdrawn within 48 hours; Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani 11 Dec condemned foreign intervention in Iraq in any form. Turkey mid-Dec began to withdraw troops, late Dec said it would continue withdrawal but PM Abadi 30 Dec said Turkey has not withdrawn. Qatar stepped up efforts to unite Iraq Sunni forces by organising a second meeting in its capital to devise a post-IS plan for Iraq’s Sunni provinces; triggered prompt reaction from Iran-affiliated forces in south Iraq. Some 100 gunmen 16 Dec kidnapped 26 Qatari nationals hunting in south near Saudi Arabia border.

Iran

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

IAEA 2 Dec released long-awaited report, concluded Iran conducted coordinated “range of activities relevant to development of nuclear explosive device” prior to late 2003, some activities continued between 2003 and 2009. IAEA board of governors 15 Dec passed resolution ending twelve-year investigation into Iran’s nuclear weapons research; President Rouhani 16 Dec said closure of probe was “political victory”. Iran 19 Dec announced plans to ship out enriched uranium stockpile to Russia and Kazakhstan as part of July nuclear deal implementation in order to secure relief from international sanctions. U.S. mid-Dec condemned Iran’s reported test-firing of second medium-range ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear warhead late Nov in violation of UNSC Resolution 1929. FM Zarif 18 Dec called on U.S. and Britain to “join hands” to defeat Islamic State (IS) and end war in Syria. Security forces reportedly arrested 53 people for running pro-IS websites.

Bahrain

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Man sentenced to death, 22 others sentenced to life in prison 31 Jan in connection to 2014 bomb attack in Dimistan village; 29 sentenced from five to 25 years in prison for involvement in Dec 2014 bomb attack in al-Budaiya.

Syria

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged
Russia expanded airstrikes targeting areas held by anti-Islamic State (IS) rebels allied with Turkey in northern Syria, part of multi-front offensive by the Assad regime and its foreign backers; attacks generating devastating civilian casualties, including scores reported killed in Russian airstrike on Idlib 20 Dec. Long-awaited opposition conference in Saudi Arabia, 8-10 Dec, generated minor breakthrough toward more coherent rebel representation, with unprecedented range of armed and political factions in attendance. Syrian ex-PM Riad Hijab elected opposition negotiator; joint statement outlined commitment to pluralistic Syrian future without President Assad and conditional willingness to engage in political process outlined in Vienna 11-14 Nov. Meeting between opposition and govt tentatively scheduled late Jan; Assad 11 Dec declared he would not negotiate with armed groups. UNSC 19 Dec unanimously approved resolution endorsing international roadmap for peace process. Govt and rebels 2 Dec reached local truce in Homs neighbourhood al-Waer, following two years of siege. U.S.-led coalition airstrikes 6 Dec killed at least 32 IS fighters in Raqqa province, days after Germany and Britain agreed to join anti-IS campaign early Dec; NATO 7 Dec ruled out sending ground troops. IS attacks continued including at least 50 killed in Kurdish YPG-controlled town Tel Tamer 11 Dec; at least sixteen killed in govt-controlled Homs 12 Dec.

Lebanon

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Amid ongoing political stalemate, former PM and Future Current (FC) leader Saad Hariri 3 Dec backed initiative supporting contested candidacy of Marada Movement leader Suleiman Frangieh, friend of Syrian President Assad and member of rival March 8 coalition, in move straining FC’s ties with Christian allies and with Lebanese Forces. Parliament failed to elect new president again 3 Dec and 16 Dec due to lack of quorum. Govt 21 Dec agreed to export country’s waste in move that could end garbage crisis, which began mid-July. Army and Hizbollah continued offensive against militants along NE border with Syria: Hizbollah 9 Dec reportedly killed al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) commander and eight fighters following attack on convoy; army and Hizbollah 15 Dec reportedly killed five Islamic State (IS) fighters; army 17 Dec reportedly killed three militants. JN 1 Dec released sixteen soldiers and police, held since Aug 2014, under Qatari-mediated deal, in exchange for release of thirteen Islamist-leaning prisoners in Lebanon and Syria; IS continued to hold nine hostages. Suicide blast 5 Dec reportedly killed three, wounded several soldiers during army raid in northern city Tripoli. U.S. 11 Dec urged citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon due to security concerns. Hizbollah 21 Dec vowed to retaliate for killing of prominent militant Samir Kuntar in alleged Israeli airstrike inside Syria 19 Dec (see Israel).

Israel/Palestine

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Month saw continued wave of almost daily stabbings, vehicle attacks and, increasingly, shootings by Palestinians targeting Israelis in West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. Gaps emerging between PM Netanyahu, military and intelligence chiefs over tactics used to stop violence, which has seen over 130 Palestinians and some twenty Israelis killed since 1 Oct. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abbas 14 Dec said attacks result of “despair” of Palestinian youths and Israeli visits to al-Aqsa Mosque. U.S. Sec State Kerry 5 Dec warned of collapse of PA and its impact on Israel. Israel held talks with Quartet delegation in Jerusalem mid-Dec; no concrete result. Turkish President Erdoğan and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal met in Istanbul 19 Dec, day after Israel and Turkey announced they are working to restore relations following five-year rift; several unresolved issues still outstanding. Greek parliament 22 Dec approved non-binding resolution calling on govt to recognise state of Palestine in vote attended by Abbas. Relations between Hamas and Egypt continued to deteriorate, following claims of cooperation between Hamas and Islamic State (IS) in Sinai. Three rockets fired into Israel from S Lebanon 20 Dec, hours after Hizbollah claimed Israeli airstrike inside Syria killed leading Lebanese militant Samir Kuntar 19 Dec. Israel 21 Dec announced it will deploy new medium-range missile interceptor by mid-2016.

Libya

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged Resolution Opportunity

Representatives of rival parliaments House of Representatives (HoR) and General National Congress (GNC) 17 Dec signed UN-brokered agreement. Agreement, endorsed by UNSC 23 Dec, establishes a new govt of national unity headed by PM Faez Serraj; lawmakers who support agreement to remain in office under new power-sharing framework. Uncertainties remain over level of support for agreement: HoR and GNC parliament chiefs 15 Dec met and rejected agreement, devising separate peace plan; GNC president 16 Dec said delegates intending to sign UN deal lacked legitimacy. Tripoli remained tense: fighting erupted in Tajoura suburb and near airport road; clashes in Ajdabiya increased between forces loyal to Libyan National Army, which opposes UN-brokered agreement, and local groups who support new govt. UN 1 Dec warned of increasing Islamic State (IS) presence in Libya; IS 14 Dec killed Palestinian man in Sirte for alleged spying. Western govts urged Libyan factions to authorise airstrikes against IS in Libya but country’s envoy to UN Ibrahim Dabbashi 23 Dec said Libya does not plan to request Western airstrikes any time soon.

Western Sahara

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Moroccan King Mohammed visited early Nov, said there would be no further concessions regarding sovereignty but vowed revenues would be reinvested locally and announced large new infrastructure investment in region. UN Envoy to Western Sahara Christopher Ross late Nov visited region in bid to relaunch negotiations between Morocco and Polisario Front.

Tunisia

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Political, social and security tensions continued. Bomb attack on bus in Tunis carrying presidential guard left twelve dead 24 Nov; Islamic State claimed responsibility. Authorities announced state of emergency throughout country, curfew in capital; 30 Nov announced arrest of two militants in connection with bombing and seizure of weapons cache. Jihadis linked to al-Qaeda 13 Nov beheaded teenage shepherd in Mount Mrihila, sparking widespread indignation against authorities for failure to rapidly visit family; Tunisian army launched retaliatory operation in area, three jihadis and soldier killed. Tensions within ruling Nida Tounes party as various groups vied for control: 31 deputies threatened to resign from parliamentary group raising possibility of An Nahda party becoming largest political force in Assembly; deputies threating resignation eventually reversed decision. Internal dissent also continued within opposition An-Nahda, particularly over dismissal of several imams from Lakhmi mosque as part of policy of controlling extremist religious discourse. Weekly protests against policy organised by imams’ syndicate affiliated with Islamist trade union federation (OTT) ongoing.

Libya

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Political dialogue aimed at ending rivalry between two parliaments remained deeply troubled. New UN SRSG Martin Kobler 17 Nov replaced Bernardino León, assumed responsibility for political dialogue process. Ongoing disagreement over which draft agreement should be approved: July draft that favours the internationally recognised Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) or latest Oct draft incorporating some Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC) objections to July draft. HoR and GNC presidents refused to allow formal vote on Oct draft; anti-deal constituencies on both sides claim majority of each parliament opposes agreement, pro-deal factions make opposite claim. Kobler 17 Nov stated “small number of outstanding issues” remained but process continues to be marred by insecurity and spoilers. Fighting in Benghazi and Derna continued; at least sixteen killed in clashes between forces allied to HoR and Islamic State (IS) fighters in Benghazi 11 Nov; IS consolidated control in Sirte as foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq increased group’s ranks. Car bomb 24 Nov killed at least five guards and injured sixteen others at checkpoint east of Tripoli. UN report 16 Nov documented indiscriminate shelling, executions, torture, property destruction, and abduction of civilians by all parties 1 Jan-31 Oct. Tebus and Tuaregs in south signed peace agreement brokered by Qatar 23 Nov, but fighting reportedly resumed soon thereafter.

Egypt

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Second and final round of parliamentary elections held 22-23 Nov amid poor voter turnout and boycott by key opposition parties; “For the Love of Egypt” coalition again expected to win all of the 20% of seats reserved for party lists. Violence in Sinai province continued: suicide bomber and vehicle packed with explosives killed at least four police officers and wounded at least five civilians in N Sinai 4 Nov, Islamic State (IS) affiliate “Sinai Province” (SP) claimed responsibility; at least three killed and fourteen wounded by car bomb explosion outside hotel housing election judges in N Sinai 24 Nov, SP claimed responsibility; SP leader Ashraf Gharabli reportedly killed in shootout in Cairo 9 Nov. Six Sudanese migrants killed, seventeen wounded during clash between security forces and smugglers 23 Nov in N Sinai. Gunmen attack on police checkpoint killed four security personnel 28 Nov in Saqqara; militant group affiliated to IS claimed responsibility. UK, U.S. and Russia early and mid-Nov suggested bomb explosion brought down Russian plane in 31 Oct crash in Sinai, Egyptian authorities yet to reveal conclusions. Prior to UK visit President Sisi in BBC interview 4 Nov suggested outlawed Muslim Brotherhood could have role in public life. Prominent journalist and rights activist Hossam Bahgat detained by military 8-10 Nov, released after international outcry but could still be charged for disseminating false news.

Algeria

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

President Bouteflika 1 Nov announced long-promised constitutional amendments to be made public soon: main Pro-Bouteflika political parties welcomed news as part of democratisation process; others expressed concerns Bouteflika’s brother Said is really in control due to Bouteflika’s illness. View echoed by “Group of 19” including liberation war veterans and senior political figures who presented letter to presidency 7 Nov requesting meeting with Bouteflika; presidency chef de cabinet Ahmed Ouyahia said letter “harms the institutions of the state and the interests of Algeria”. Former counter-terrorism chief Gen Hassan convicted late Nov of destroying documents and disobeying military orders, sentenced to five years’ prison. Economic crunch continued to loom following steep decline in oil prices: 2016 budget presented to Assembly 22 Nov, including some light austerity measures.

Saudi Arabia

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Military operations continued in Yemen (see Yemen). State media 20 Nov announced country will host conference mid-Dec aimed at unifying Syrian opposition. State media 26 Nov reported sanctions imposed on at least twelve senior Hizbollah figures under terrorism crimes and financing laws. Two policemen shot dead mid-Nov in Qatif, eastern province.

Yemen

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Fighting intensified in and around Taiz province as both Huthi/Saleh bloc and govt/Saudi-led coalition sought military gains ahead of second round of UN-sponsored peace talks. Huthis and aligned military forces early Nov captured lost border territories in Dalia and Lahj governorates; tightened blockade of Taiz, south of capital Sanaa. Govt/Saudi-led coalition 16 Nov announced major ground operation to recapture Taiz; hundreds of additional Sudanese troops arrived in Aden 9 Nov; President Hadi 17 Nov returned from exile in Saudi Arabia to oversee offensive. Coalition airstrikes in Sanaa decreased in response to international pressure. Govt and Huthi/Saleh bloc remain committed to UN-sponsored talks, scheduled for December. Lawlessness, including assassination of two security officers 1 Nov, and al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) attacks continued in South: roadside bomb 9 Nov reportedly killed at least sixteen govt soldiers in Marib province. IS 20 Nov reportedly killed at least nineteen govt soldiers and 35 militants in E Hadramout.

Iraq

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Iraqi Kurdish forces 12 Nov launched long-awaited operation to flush Islamic State (IS) from Sinjar in Ninewa province, with air support from anti-IS coalition. Sinjar rapidly liberated, though Intra-Kurdish rivalries between Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) evident. Mass grave discovered mid-Nov in east of Sinjar town. Clashes in Anbar province between IS and govt backed by anti-IS coalition airstrikes continued: Iraq’s military command late Nov advised all civilians to leave provincial capital Ramadi prompting speculation of imminent operation to retake city from IS. IS suicide bombings killed tens throughout month. Political tensions in Baghdad continued despite late Oct reforms to public sector salaries. Turkish airstrikes against PKK in northern Iraq continued (see Turkey).

Iran

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

IAEA 18 Nov reported Iran started dismantling parts of its nuclear program at Natanz and Fordo enrichment facilities, as agreed in July nuclear deal; twenty hardline politicians early Nov complained deactivation of centrifuges contradicted directives of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. President Rouhani 5 Nov and UN human rights experts 11 Nov condemned new security crackdown after Revolutionary Guards rounded up Baha'is, Iranian-Americans, journalists, activists and dissidents citing fears of Western “infiltration”. FM Zarif attended both rounds of multilateral negotiations over Syria’s fate in Vienna 30 Oct and 11-14 Nov, Supreme Leader Khamenei 23 Nov met Russian President Putin in Tehran to discuss Syria. Israeli intelligence 19 Nov said at least 50 Iranian military personnel killed in Syria. Rouhani 14 Nov cancelled first European trip to Italy and France after Paris terrorist attacks 13 Nov; Iran's Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi cautioned attacks represented “serious warning” for Iran.

Bahrain

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Authorities 4 Nov said 47 arrested on suspicion of links with “terrorist elements in Iran”, planning attacks in Bahrain; several arrested 27 Nov on suspicion of “terror” links to Iran. Foreign ministry late Nov summoned Iranian chargé d’affaires to formally protest Iran’s perceived interference in internal affairs. Public prosecutor 5 Nov announced five convicted of conspiring with Iran to launch attacks in Bahrain, sentenced to life in prison and citizenship revoked; 10 Nov said eight sentenced to three to ten years’ jail for terrorism. Majeed Milad, senior member of opposition Al Wefaq, sentenced 11 Nov to two years’ prison for incitement to public disobedience; U.S. 7 Nov called for charges against Al Wefaq leader Ali Salman to be dropped following UN declaration his imprisonment is “arbitrary detention”. Govt late Nov rejected Human Rights Watch report documenting ongoing rights abuses, torture of detainees.

Syria

  |  1 Dec 2015

Deteriorated
New escalation in conflict after Turkey shot down Russian warplane near its border with Syria (see Turkey). In response, Moscow announced unilateral economic sanctions and stepped up airstrikes along Syrian side of Turkish border, including for first time strikes in support of Kurdish YPG operations against pro-Turkey, anti-Islamic State (IS) rebels north of Aleppo. FMs representing Syrian war’s key external players including Iran gathered in Vienna 11-14 Nov, following first round 30 Oct; talks represent most serious diplomatic engagement on Syrian conflict since failed “Geneva II” talks early 2014, concluded with joint agreement on basic contours of hoped-for political process: negotiations between regime and opposition as early as Jan 2016; followed by process to “establish credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months; nationwide ceasefire (excluding IS and Jabhat al-Nusra); within eighteen months, agreement on new constitution followed by UN-monitored elections, with all Syrians entitled to vote. Disagreement between Washington and Moscow continued over whether transition will end President Assad’s rule. Responding to 13 Nov Paris attacks claimed by IS (see France), France 15 Nov intensified airstrikes on IS stronghold Raqqa, deployed aircraft carrier to Gulf; Russian President Putin 17 Nov ordered Russian army to coordinate with French military as “allies” on joint action plan. UNSC 20 Nov adopted resolution, drafted by France, calling on countries around world to take “all necessary measures” to fight IS. Russia continued its military escalation, deploying jets and launching cruise missiles simultaneously against rebels on multiple fronts. Initial regime gains in some areas matched by setbacks elsewhere: regime and allied forces progressed against assortment of non-IS rebels and IS south and SE of Aleppo respectively; in Hama, array of mainstream and jihadi groups 6 Nov thwarted regime offensives and gained ground. Regime continued barrel bombing and other aerial collective punishment tactics, biggest killer of civilians, despite Russian claims to contrary.

Lebanon

  |  1 Dec 2015

Deteriorated

At least 40 people killed, over 200 injured in double suicide bomb attack 12 Nov in predominantly Shiite neighbourhood of Bourj al-Barajneh in Beirut’s southern suburb; Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, triggering renewed fears about ability and intent of jihadi groups to expand operations in Lebanon, and for many observers highlighting limitations of govt’s “security plan”; security forces arrested at least sixteen suspects. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri 11 Nov again postponed election of president due to lack of quorum. Anti-govt protests in Beirut over ongoing trash collection crisis continued. Parliament approved a number of draft laws during rare session 12-13 Nov following informal agreements among main political parties on mainly financial issues. Two soldiers and six alleged fugitives killed during anti-drug raid in Jounieh 2 Nov. Suicide bomber 5 Nov killed at least six Syrian clerics in NE town Arsal.

Israel/Palestine

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Month saw dramatic reduction of violence at Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade following late Oct understandings between Israel and Jordan, regarding preventing provocateurs from entering site and strengthening Jordan’s role there. PM Netanyahu and President Obama discussed Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens during 9 Nov meeting in Washington; Netanyahu said he remained committed to two-state solution. U.S. Sec State Kerry 24 Nov met Netanyahu and Palestinian leaders in bid to stop ongoing violence, which has seen around 100 Palestinians and around twenty Israelis killed since 1 Oct. Govt 2 Nov passed three-year minimum prison sentence for stone-throwers. Following 13 Nov Paris attacks claimed by Islamic State (IS), Israeli govt 17 Nov used emergency regulations to outlaw northern branch of Israel’s Islamic movement, approved construction of 436 residential units in E Jerusalem settlement Ramat Shlomo and unfreeze 1,000 additional residential units. Netanyahu 18 Nov hinted at possibility of Israeli annexation of parts of West Bank. Severe rainstorms brought flooding to Gaza. Israel late Nov suspended EU involvement in peace process following EU’s decision to label goods from Jewish settlements in West Bank.

Tunisia

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged
Pessimism prevailed despite award of Nobel Peace Prize to National Dialogue Quartet 9 Oct. Young street vendor died 9 Oct after self-immolating in front of Sfax governorate HQ; customs officer also died after self-immolating. Nida Tounes MP 8 Oct escaped assassination attempt; attack reportedly linked to party infighting over control of party apparatus and challenges to President Essebsi, amid rumours of growing “mafia” involvement in politics and imminent assassinations. An-Nahda leader Rached Ghannouchi also facing increasing dissent, criticisms over authoritarian governance of party and anti-Islamist policy of religious affairs ministry. State of emergency imposed after June Sousse attack lifted 2 Oct. Interior Ministry 27 Oct said seven members of jihadi cell arrested in NE. Small-scale Islamist militant attacks continued despite arrest of thousands in previous months: two soldiers killed 12 Oct in clashes near Algeria border after militants killed local shepherd, reportedly for spying. Dozens of Tunisians kidnapped 12 Oct by gunmen in NW Libya in response to arrest of Libyan official at Tunis airport, released 13 Oct.

Libya

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

UN SRSG León 8 Oct announced proposal for Government of National Accord (GNA). Western govts declared support for proposed line-up, urged lawmakers from Libya’s two rival parliaments – internationally recognised House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk and rival General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli – to endorse agreement. HoR, which early Oct voted to extend mandate beyond 20 Oct expiration, rejected agreement; GNC unlikely to endorse. León’s last-minute amendments to draft agreement and decision to announce suggested line-up of GNA’s cabinet and two other institutions triggered negative reactions within Libya, even among previously supportive factions. León 21 Oct said talks to continue. At least twelve killed, nine wounded after shells hit rally in Benghazi protesting proposed agreement; perpetrators still unclear as residents remain divided between those who accuse army and others who blame Islamist factions. Attacks by Islamic State (IS) affiliates and military operations against them continued including strikes on areas of Sirte controlled by IS militants, attack by IS on forces guarding Es Sider oil port 1 Oct. Helicopter transporting military commanders of Tripoli-aligned security forces gunned down 27 Oct in Maya, west of Tripoli, killing nineteen; east-based military coalition (Libyan National Army, LNA) took responsibility for attack (although others disputed claim), sparking renewed tensions between pro-Libya Dawn coalition and local forces allied to LNA.

Egypt

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged
First round of long-delayed parliamentary elections held 18-19 Oct, second round scheduled for 22-23 Nov. Low voter turnout of 26.56% reported. President Sisi’s “For the Love of Egypt” electoral list took all 60 seats allocated to party list system; “Call of Egypt” list 24 Oct withdrew from elections, said will challenge first round results at Supreme Administrative Court. Run-offs for individual seats held 27-28 Oct, pro-Sisi parties did well while sole Islamist party al-Nour fared poorly. Security operations and militant attacks continued in Sinai province: security forces 25 Oct said at least 25 militants killed in joint “Martyr’s right” military-police operation in N Sinai; gunmen 25 Oct killed Al-Nour parliamentary candidate in Al-Arish, N Sinai; at least two killed, six conscripts injured 14 Oct in bombing in Al-Arish; three fighters from pro-govt militia reportedly kidnapped, two wounded 15 Oct in attack on checkpoint near Sheikh Zuweid town by Islamic State (IS) affiliate “Sinai Province”. Interior Ministry 23 Oct announced arrest of Hassan Malik, senior Muslim Brotherhood leader and businessman, for “exacerbating the instability of the dollar exchange rate”. Court 12 Oct ordered release of former President Mubarak’s sons, arrested after 2011 uprising and sentenced to three years’ prison for embezzlement.

Algeria

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged
President Bouteflika’s supporters continued talk of transition to civilian state following Sept dismissal of intelligence chief General Mohamed “Toufik” Mediène. Presidency 8 Oct released communiqué saying these recent measures are part of security and political reforms that will be “crowned” by project to revise constitution. National Liberation Front (FNL) party chief Amar Saadani announced new “presidential alliance”, invited unions, political parties, media and NGOs to take part; constitutional reform, economic liberalisation and transition to civilian state on alliance’s agenda. Head of National Rally for Democracy party Ahmed Ouyahia rejected call. Police 12 Oct raided and shuttered private Islamist-leaning television Channel El Watan after it aired interview with former chief of armed wing of National Salvation Front (Front islamique du salut, FIS) Madani Mezrag in which Mezrag threatened Bouteflika; no charges brought against Mezrag. Security operations against Islamist militants continued: officials 20 Oct said at least three killed in counter-terrorism operation in north.

Saudi Arabia

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

At least one killed 26 Oct in suicide bombing targeting worshipers leaving mosque in Najran, in SW. U.S. Sec State Kerry late Oct visited Riyadh, agreed to increase support for Syrian moderate opposition. Supreme Court 25 Oct rejected appeal to commute death sentence against Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Saudi-led coalition continued military operations in Yemen (see Yemen).

Yemen

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged
Large-scale deadly violence continued throughout month: military stalemate between Huthi/Saleh bloc and govt/Saudi-led coalition ongoing, with both sustaining heavy losses. Saudi-led coalition early Oct made gains in coastal areas around Bab al-Mandeb. Huthis increased cross-border missile attacks: fighters 15 Oct launched Scud missile at Saudi air base in Kharnis Mushait provoking barrage of Saudi airstrikes on Sanaa. Some diplomatic progress: President Hadi 18 Oct accepted invitation from UNSG Ban to resume peace talks. Security continued to deteriorate in south: Islamic State (IS) branch 6 Oct claimed responsibility for series of deadly car bombs targeting govt facilities in Aden that killed at least eleven Yemenis and four UAE soldiers. Criminality and political tensions also on rise: southern resistance fighters appropriated private houses and stormed govt facilities in Aden. Thousands rallied 14 Oct, anniversary of start of 1960s war against British occupation, calling for independence. Médecins Sans Frontières 26 Oct claimed field hospital in Saada destroyed by coalition airstrikes.

Iraq

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Baghdad govt late Oct said it would authorise Russian airstrikes against Islamic state (IS) in Iraq weeks after first Russian strikes in Syria. Iraqi security forces backed by U.S.-led coalition continued fight against IS, early Oct retook several areas north and west of Ramadi, Anbar province. At least 26 killed late Oct in rocket attack on Camp Liberty housing exiled Iranian opposition. IS attacks continued including at least 50 killed, 100 injured 5 Oct by series of car bombs in Baghdad. UN reported over 700, including 559 civilians, killed in Oct. Parliamentary Shiite factions 29 Oct threatened to withdraw support from PM Abadi’s govt if it fails to deliver genuine reform. Serious political turmoil in Iraqi Kurdistan over presidency, occupied for over a decade by Massoud Barzani, undermining U.S. anti-IS strategy of arming Kurds to fight jihadi group. Kurdish Regional Govt (KRG) PM Nechirvan Barzani 13 Oct sacked Gorran cabinet members, including peshmerga, finance and religious affairs ministers, and announced reshuffle. Demonstrators early Oct began protests in cities of Suleimaniya governorate against Kurdish govt’s failure to pay employees including teachers, civil servants and peshmerga fighters; nine protesters injured 10 Oct in clashes with police; protests increasingly partisan.

Iran

  |  2 Nov 2015

Improved
July nuclear deal formally adopted by all sides 18 Oct. Iranian authorities 13 Oct completed review of deal following passage of bill requiring Iranian govt to withdraw from deal if P5+1/EU3+3 fail to fulfil commitments under accord. Bill also included provisions requiring Iran to prioritise use of released assets to strengthen private sector and national development fund. U.S. President Obama 18 Oct issued two memoranda to administration instructing them to lay legal groundwork for lifting U.S. nuclear-related sanctions; EU published Council Regulation for lifting sanctions that will come into force once IAEA verifies Iran has completed key nuclear commitments under accord. President Rouhani estimated Iran could complete these steps within two months; U.S. officials gave six-to-nine month estimate. Joint Commission created under deal held first session 19 Oct. IAEA 15 Oct announced investigation into past possible military dimension of nuclear program, will submit final report by 15 Dec. Iran 11 Oct tested new medium-range ballistic missile. Iran’s military presence deepened in Syria, four high-ranking Revolutionary Guard commanders killed including General Harmedani 9 Oct.

Bahrain

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged
Appeals court 21 Oct upheld conviction of opposition activist Zainab al-Khawaja for insulting king. Public prosecutor’s office 21 Oct announced 24 to face trial for attempting to establish Islamic State branch and promoting overthrow of monarchy. FM Sheikh Khalid mid-Oct said Iran on “path of conquest and power projection” against neighbouring states, sponsoring terrorism.

Syria

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged
Multinational pro-Assad regime camp continued major, multifront offensive initiated by Russian airstrikes 30 Sept; 7 Oct major escalation in ground operations backed by Russian strikes began including forces from Syrian army, Hizbullah, pro-regime Syrian militias, militias composed of Shiite foreign fighters, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Majority of Russian airstrikes and ground operations targeting rebel groups opposed to Islamic State (IS), despite Moscow’s public messaging that intervention focuses on combatting IS. Opening days of offensive focused on areas held by anti-IS rebels in Hama, Idlib, Aleppo and Homs provinces, but also included Russian airstrikes outside Damascus and advances by regime forces in southern Quneitra province. Rebel commanders 12 Oct noted arrival of additional U.S.-made TOW antitank missiles provided to help C.I.A.-vetted insurgent groups battle regime forces. U.S. 9 Oct announced it has abandoned separate $500mn program run by defence department to train and equip Syrian rebels; White House 30 Oct announced deployment of “fewer than 50” special forces personnel to Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG)-controlled areas to assist fight against IS. Amnesty International 13 Oct reported that U.S.-backed Kurdish forces had forcefully displaced thousands of civilians, mostly Arabs, and demolished villages in N Syria since Feb 2015. During first official foreign visit since 2011, Assad met with President Putin in Moscow 21 Oct. 30 Oct FMs from U.S., Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China and other Western and regional states met in Vienna to discuss Syria; released joint statement avoiding central question of Assad presidency, agreed to meet again mid-Nov.

Lebanon

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Anti-govt protests in Beirut over ongoing trash collection crisis continued; dozens injured as security forces fired tear gas and water cannons during protests in Beirut 8 Oct; at least 50 protestors detained for vandalism and assaulting policemen, several appeared before military court. Govt plan to address worsening waste crisis facing ongoing obstacles including objections of residents living close to proposed landfill sites. Further “National Dialogue” session aimed at finding solutions to political stalemate began 6 Oct. Thousands of supporters of General Michel Aoun, leader of Christian Free Patriotic Movement and candidate for presidency, rallied outside presidential palace 11 Oct. Parliament 21 Oct again failed to elect new president due to lack of quorum. As spillover from Syria conflict continued, five soldiers reportedly wounded in militant strike in eastern border village Ras Baalbek 7 Oct; several militants reportedly killed, many wounded in military strike in NE town Arsal 11 Oct. Security forces 12 Oct reportedly arrested senior al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) militant in Arsal; 22 Oct announced arrest of top IS leader and several suspected militants in Ain al-Hilweh, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp.

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CrisisWatch N°150

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