The President's Take
In my second monthly column to accompany CrisisWatch, our unique conflict tracker, I look at how outside actors are now openly fighting not for Syria, but over it. I also note more bad news from Venezuela, and flag our upcoming report on how the outside world and regional governments can avert disaster there. Read more …
President & CEO
Anti-regime protests continued across Syria despite increased crackdowns on the major flashpoint cities. Security forces, including tanks, snipers and navy gunboats were mobilised against protests in Latakia, Daraa, Damascus, Homs, Deir el-Zour and elsewhere. Over two thousand deaths have been reported since the unrest erupted in mid-March.
The UN Human Rights Commissioner recommended that the Security Council consider referring the situation to the International Criminal Court on the basis of possible crimes against humanity. The international community condemned the violence, with the U.S. and EU calling for President Bashar Assad to step down.
The month saw a breakthrough in Libya, where rebels have gained control of most of the west of the country. They seized key towns including Zlitan and Zawiya, took most of Tripoli on 21 August and launched an offensive towards the remaining regime stronghold of Sirte. The Transitional National Council reported hundreds killed during the battle for Tripoli. Evidence suggesting mass executions by pro-regime forces also surfaced.
In Turkey the Kurdish PKK rebel group launched a wave of attacks against security forces in the southeast of the country, killing some 30 security personnel over the month. In retaliation the Turkish military bombarded PKK bases in northern Iraq, claiming it killed more than 150 rebels. The government has vowed a hard line, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying “The time for words is over. Now is the time for actions”.
The situation remains tense in the north of Kosovo after the crisis that erupted in late July, when attempts by Kosovo special police to take control of two border gates with Serbia prompted a violent response from local Serbs. Kosovo’s government has promised further actions to enforce its sovereignty in the Serb-held north. Observers fear violent reprisals by local Serbs if Pristina attempts to impose its institutions without prior agreement. Violence in the north could provoke ethnic Albanian reprisals against Serb communities elsewhere in Kosovo. CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for Kosovo for the coming month.
In Nigeria’s capital Abuja, 23 people were killed and dozens injured in a car bomb attack on the UN headquarters on 26 August. Radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, which is behind an ongoing campaign of attacks on civilians and security forces in the north, claimed responsibility. Officials have named as a suspect a man with alleged links to al-Qaeda.
Violence escalated still further in Mexico. At least 52 people were killed in an arson attack on a casino in Monterrey on 25 August. Five suspected members of a drug cartel have been arrested in connection with the attack.
Sporadic attacks on security forces continued despite President Nkurunziza’s late June call for dialogue with opposition. Clashes 3-10 Aug between unidentified gunmen and police in Rumonge district and in capital left 5 gunmen, 1 police, 1 military officer dead. Main Tutsi party Uprona, currently part of coalition govt, said attacks bear hallmarks of new rebellion. President Nkurunziza 15 Aug met with Somali counterpart, agreed to send additional troops to AU mission in Somalia.
Social Democratic Front (SDF) leader and presidential candidate Ni John Fru Ndi 11 Aug declared SDF would participate in forthcoming elections scheduled for 9 Oct despite govt failure to implement called-for reforms. Other SDF elements maintained call for boycott. Ruling party convention (RDPC) scheduled for mid-Sept; President Biya expected to officially declare presidential candidacy.
Ethnic tensions rose despite June peace deal with Convention of Patriots for Justice (CPJP) rebel group: clashes early Aug between Runga, leading tribe of the CPJP rebels, and Gula, dominant tribe in UFDR, in previously calm Bria town. Several people reported injured in machete attack. CPJP leader Mahamat Salle 27 Aug signed peace agreement with govt.
President Deby inaugurated 8 Aug for fourth 5-year term; reappointed Emmanuel Nadingar as PM. Composition of new coalition govt announced 17 Aug, opposition members restricted to those allied with President. Authorities 17 Aug announced arrest of 8 Chadian fighters as part of investigation into local groups recruiting mercenaries for Libya conflict.
Continued violence in S Kivu: 2 Aug attack in Mutungo by Mai-Mai militia Janvier and FDLR displaced nearly 7,000 people; Yakutumba, another Mai-Mai militia, 7 Aug threatened to attack Lubichako town unless locals paid money. LRA remained active in Orientale Province; MONUSCO 8 Aug launched unilateral operation “Dragon Fire” near S Sudanese border, 5 Aug launched joint operation “Long Drive” with FARDC in Haut-Uélé. President Kabila 18 Aug ratified electoral law, despite allegations of inadequate transparency in electoral process, irregularities during voter registration; date for elections confirmed as 28 Nov. Opposition parties rejected “code of good behaviour” presented by CENI and MONUSCO 2 Aug, refused to sign as long as their members remain in jail. MONUSCO 27 Aug agreed to facilitate dialogue between CENI and opposition during electoral period; CENI extended candidate registration period until 11 Sept. Angola denied allegations that many of 20,000 people deported to DRC since April were beaten, raped. Deportations seen by some as part of deteriorating relations between countries; Angolan media July reported thousands of troops deployed to border in response to DRC military exercises.
Rwandan court 11 Aug controversially acquitted Runyinya Barabwiriza, former adviser to President Habyarimana whose death sparked 1994 genocide, of planning and participating in genocide. Opposition National Democratic Congress denounced 18 July ICTR decision to transfer some detainees to Rwanda to be judged in gacaca courts, said Rwandan judicial system arbitrary, cannot guarantee fair trial.
Following July UN report accusing Eritrea of bomb plot against AU, Ethiopia and Djibouti 4 Aug renewed calls for UNSC to impose sanctions on country targeting mining and remittances; supported by U.S.. President Afwerki 16 Aug met Uganda President Museveni during Kampala visit to discuss regional security. Deputy ambassador barred from IGAD meeting 25 Aug pending decision on Eritrea’s application to rejoin group.
Renewed clashes 5 Aug between Ethiopian Merille and Kenyan Turkana tribesmen (see Kenya). President Zenawi 21 Aug held talks with Sudanese President Bashir in Khartoum to defuse tensions over S Kordofan, Blue Nile States (see Sudan).
200 security officers deployed to Turkana to guard against attacks by Merille tribesmen from Ethiopia following string of attacks, including 13 killed in 5 Aug raid. ICC prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo submitted evidence 1 Aug identifying suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto as head of ‘”multi-faceted network” that attacked Party of National Unity supporters in Rift Valley in 2008 post-election violence. Also released dossier implicating military in meetings with members of outlawed Mungiki sect at presidential residence to plan revenge attacks during violence; govt denied meetings took place. ICC appeals chamber 30 Aug confirmed admissibility of Kenya post-election violence cases.
Al-Shabaab 6 Aug partially pulled out from Mogadishu as part of “tactical withdrawal”; senior al-Shabaab official Sheikh Aweys said difficult circumstances, rift amongst leadership to blame. TFP member Khalif Jire Warfa assassinated 31 July by masked gunmen in Mogadishu. AMISOM 9 Aug appealed for additional 3,000 troops to secure capital, protect food aid. UNSC announced Sept consultative meeting for Somalia “road map” establishing benchmarks for govt over coming year. Month also saw famine spread to Jubba, Bay, Gedo regions. Militia 5 Aug attacked Badbaado camp killing 7 IDPs, looted food aid. Turkish PM Erdogan 19 Aug visited Mogadishu to draw attention to famine. Heavy fighting 31 July in Gedo region between al-Shabaab and pro-govt militia Ahlu Sunna, at least 20 killed. In Puntland, military 6 Aug clashed with Somaliland troops in Sool region (see Somaliland). Series of attacks continued with 1 Aug explosion in Garowe during celebrations of region’s establishment leaving 1 dead; roadside bomb 13 Aug in Galka’yo wounded at least 2 soldiers; assassination of high ranking security official 23 Aug.
Fierce fighting erupted 6 Aug in Taleh area, Sool region after delegation led by MP Saleban Yusuf Ali Kore ambushed by Puntland troops, who reportedly arrested 19 officials.
Retaliatory cattle raids by Murle tribesmen on 3 ethnic Nuer villages in Jonglei State 18 Aug left at least 600 dead, 200 possibly abducted, up to 30,000 cattle reportedly stolen, increased fears for instability. Rebel leader Pater Gadet agreed 3 Aug ceasefire with President Kiir; declared intention to integrate forces into S Sudan Army, though process incomplete. Other rebel SSLA forces still outstanding. Several killed in land mine incidents in Unity state. Army 25 Aug reported clashes with rebel generals George Athor, Gordon Kong in Upper Nile State; scores dead. Govt 1 Aug reached tentative agreement with Sudan over border security (see Sudan); 27 Aug announced new 29-member cabinet. Amid disputes over oil fees, Sudan 6 Aug released S Sudanese oil shipment held over customs duties. Govt 15 Aug joined AU, offered to contribute peacekeeping troops for Somalia. UN 3 Aug criticised S Sudan for jailing journalist reporting on alleged rape of foreign aid worker; 26 Aug condemned police beating of senior rights official.
Fighting slowed in S Kordofan despite reports of continued aerial attacks by SAF, with apparent military stalemate between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and SPLM-North. UN report 15 Aug called for inquiry into possible war crimes committed by SAF in S Kordofan. Govt 19 Aug agreed to allow UN supervised access to assess humanitarian needs. President Bashir 23 Aug announced unilateral ceasefire in region; SPLM-N alleged attempt to deflect attention from abuses and imminent military offensive, 7 Aug announced alliance with Darfur rebel groups SLM-AW and SLM-MM to topple govt. Govt 29 Aug sent letter to UNSC accusing S Sudan of supporting SPLM-N forces in S Kordofan. Security agreement signed with S Sudan 1 Aug including establishment of Joint Political and Security Mechanism for border; unclear if and when it will be implemented. In Abyei, 4 Ethiopian peacekeepers killed by landmine 2 Aug; UN accused authorities of delaying medical evacuation. In Darfur, 1 UNAMID peacekeeper killed in 5 Aug ambush in south. Court 27 Aug sentenced Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader al-Tom Tutu to death for fomenting war. FM Ali Karti 9 Aug accused UNSC of manipulating extension of UNAMID mandate, threatened to expel peacekeepers if no amendment, rejected AU-monitored tribunals to adjudicate criminal cases in region. Ruling NCP Chairman Ali Nafie 19 Aug rejected U.S. attempts to broker peace deal between govt and JEM, accused Washington of reneging on promise to remove Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list. Cease Fire Commission for Darfur 22 Aug held inaugural meeting to monitor implementation of July peace deal between Darfur Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) and govt.
Charges against opposition politician Kizza Besigye, including rioting and disobeying police orders, dropped 9 Aug. But tensions flared as Besigye and thousands of supporters gathered 9 Aug in Masaka, calling for resumption of protests. Security Minister Wilson Muruli Mukasa warned govt will not tolerate acts meant to destabilise country. Police 17 Aug fired tear gas, water cannon on crowd holding vigil in Kampala for people killed in April protests; 31 Aug banned planned opposition rally to “celebrate people power” in N Africa. President Museveni 13 Aug pledged additional 2,000 troops for AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Govt 4 Aug issued fresh terror alert, reported Somalia’s al-Shabaab planning new attacks.
17-18 Aug SADC summit resulted in reaffirmed “commitment to supporting the mediation process”, mandated Troika and Mediator Joaquim Chissano to support implementation of roadmap. Chissano earlier announced conditions do not currently exist for free and fair elections, elections should be supervised by UN.
In wake of deadly crackdown on July anti-govt protests, over 250 appeared in courts charged with violence. Some journalists accused of fomenting dissent; 6 reportedly beaten by police. Demonstrators called off planned 17 Aug protests after President Mutharika vowed to “meet them in the streets”; Mutharika 25 Aug said “ready for a fight”, ahead of planned vigil 21 Sept. UN reportedly facilitated talks between govt and protest organisers mid-month.
Continued negotiations between power-sharing parties under auspices of South African president Jacob Zuma 12 Aug failed to finalise elections roadmap. Agreement blocked on security sector reform, which ZANU-PF insists is off-limits; composition of electoral commission; and concerns over state violence. Communiqué resulting from 17-18 Aug SADC summit seen as disappointing for MDC: affirmed progress since June summit, urged commitment to GPA implementation and finalisation of roadmap for resolving outstanding issues; slightly modified position on deployment of SADC officials to Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee. Pro-ZANU-PF media called to remove Zuma from SADC facilitator role, but issue not raised at summit. Senior ZANU-PF politburo member General Solomon Mujuru, husband of VP Joyce Mujuru, died in mysterious fire 16 Aug; Mujuru regarded as counterweight to radical elements in ZANU-PF leadership succession contest, generating concerns over repercussions of death. Public hearing on draft Human Rights Commission abandoned late July after parliament invaded by crowd of ZANU-PF supporters, several individuals including journalists and MPs physically assaulted. Controversy regarding reengagement in international diamond trading continued, with early-Aug BBC report alleging abuses at Marange diamond fields.
Arrests of figures loyal to former president Laurent Gbagbo continued. Public prosecutor Simplice Kouadio Koffi 5 Aug announced arrest warrant for Pastor Mamadou Koné, influential figure in Gbagbo regime who rejected Nov 2010 election results; 57 soldiers from Gbagbo regime arrested 11 Aug, charged with attacking state security, buying arms, kidnap, murder. Observers continue to question lack of arrests of forces loyal to President Ouattara. Gbagbo and wife charged 18 Aug with economic crimes, placed under preventive detention; Gbagbo also charged with embezzlement of public funds, attacks on national economy, theft, pillage. Regional media foundation appealed to Ouattara “to respect the independence” of Ivorian Broadcasting Corporation (RTI) and other state media following his 30 July dismissal of RTI Director-General. Acting UNOCI human rights chief 12 Aug stated Ivorian forces have carried out 26 extrajudicial executions, 85 illegal arrests, 11 rapes since July, mainly in south.
38 people, including former chief of staff General Thiam, charged in connection with 19 July attacks on President Condé’s home. Leading civil society coalition Guinean Social Movement 10-11 Aug met with govt, pro-govt parties and development partners to discuss controversial organisation of Nov legislative elections. Coalition of opposition parties refused to attend, later met with Condé. Condé 17 Aug appointed Conakry imam and archbishop to head panel on national reconciliation; 15 Aug pardoned 17 opposition activists jailed after April demonstration in support of opposition UFDG leader Cellou Delein Diallo. Group of 19 opposition parties 17 Aug called for parliament to replace members of electoral commission (INEC), due to INEC having missed deadlines during 2010 presidential poll. Opposition leaders 19 Aug announced creation of new coalition, Alliance for Democracy and Progress.
President Sanha 2 Aug dismissed attorney-general Amine Michel Saad, widely seen as attempt to placate critics of Saad’s handling of investigations into 2009 assassinations of President and Chief of Staff. However, opposition again took to streets 5 Aug demanding resignation of PM Carlos Gomes Junior. President Sanha expressed support for PM Gomes; hundreds of youths 12 Aug rallied in capital demanding peace.
Govt 6 Aug signed agreement with Côte d’Ivoire for voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees from Liberia; authorities 10 Aug seized arms, ammunition near border.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb reported 9 Aug to have returned to Wagadou forest near Mauritanian border. Hundreds of Tuaregs reportedly returning to Mali and Niger from fighting in Libya, raising fears of destabilisation.
President Issoufou 2 Aug announced 10 arrested for role in July attempted coup; first official confirmation of coup attempt. Around 130 rebels in NE disarmed, agreed to support peace process.
23 people killed, dozens injured in massive car bomb in Abuja 26 Aug targeting UN building, claimed by Islamist sect Boko Haram; officials identified as suspect man with alleged links to al-Qaeda. New govt fact-finding panel on Boko Haram 18 Aug submitted interim report, amid continuing attacks in and around Maiduguri, Borno state. Army subject to further criticism over alleged abuses during ongoing crackdown on sect, pledged to probe abuses. President Jonathan 20 Aug appointed Acting President of Appeal Court in place of Justice Isa Ayo Salami, who doubled as Chair of Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting over Congress for Progressive Change’s 11 Aug motion to quash Jonathan’s election. Jonathan’s removal of Salami seen as apparent violation of constitution, condemned by opposition ACN. ACN and NLC parties voiced opposition to late July announcement by Presidency of bill proposing single 6-year term for president and governors, alleging hidden agenda to prolong President’s tenure. Around 50 people killed in renewed violence in Barkin-Ladi area and Jos, Plateau state 14-18 Aug, in attacks involving youths and Fulani herdsmen; allegations those carrying out initial attacks wearing military uniforms. At least 10 killed 29 Aug in further violence. Govt 18 Aug inaugurated Economic Management Team, Committee on Restructuring and Rationalization of Federal Govt Parastatals and Agencies. UN Environmental Program issued report on oil pollution in Niger Delta. International Maritime Bureau reported sharp increase in piracy attacks in Gulf of Guinea.
Spokesperson for President Wade’s coalition Cap 21 7 Aug claimed homosexual lobbies had infiltrated M23, coalition of opposition parties and civil society organizations hostile to his run for 3rd term in 2012 presidential elections. End of extended electoral registration period 16 Aug. Constitutionalists connected to M23 23 Aug maintained Wade’s run for 3rd term unconstitutional. In 16 Aug visit to Gambia, Wade asked President Yahya Jammeh for help dealing with Casamance conflict; new attacks by Casamance separatists 20, 23, 25 Aug.
Police 3 Aug killed 2 people suspected of involvement in late July violence in Xinjiang province. Authorities reported one suspect trained in Pakistan, attacks planned abroad by “Islamic extremists” from East Turkistan Islamic Movement; Uighur activists and others rejected account. Beijing 11 Aug launched 2-month anti-terrorist campaign in Xinjiang.
Following meeting between Kim Jong-il and Russian President Medvedev in Siberia 24 Aug, Kremlin announced DPRK ready to resume 6-party talks without preconditions, consider moratorium on nuclear weapons tests and production. In wake of June-July floods ROK Unification Ministry 10 Aug said ROK Red Cross offered to send $4.8mn food to DPRK, but still no official ROK food aid; Seoul closely monitoring NGO-provided aid. U.S. mid-Aug offered DPRK $900,000 in emergency flood aid, still reviewing request for food aid. Russia 19 Aug made first delivery of expected 50,000 tons of grain to DPRK. ROK military 10 Aug returned fire after North Korean artillery shells fell in waters near ROK’s Yŏnp’yŏng Island; DPRK 11 Aug denied shells were fired. U.S., ROK 16-26 Aug held combined military drill; DPRK called exercise “undisguised military threat”. U.S. and DPRK mid-Aug reportedly discussed possible resumption of search for remains of U.S. military personnel killed during Korean War. German media 24 Aug reported DPRK earlier this year supplied Iran with computer software facilitating building of nuclear weapons.
Taliban 19 Aug killed 8, including 5 Afghan soldiers, one New Zealand soldier, in attack on British Council compound in Kabul. Taliban 6 Aug shot down U.S. army helicopter, killing 37 U.S. and Afghan soldiers, 1 Afghan civilian; single largest death toll from attack since 2001. U.S. 10 Aug said killed insurgent responsible for attack. Independent Election Commission 21 Aug said will replace 6 MPs victorious in Sept parliamentary elections; controversial special tribunal investigating election set up by President Karzai had called for disqualification of quarter of all MPs. Taliban suicide bombers 14 Aug killed 22 in attack on Parwan governor’s compound. U.S. military report 16 Aug estimated $360mn spent by U.S. on contract agents lost to insurgency.
Amnesty International 24 Aug accused govt of unlawful killings by police Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), said RAB implicated in at least 700 killings since 2004.
Maoists 19 Aug killed 9 police, 1 civilian in Chhattisgarh attack.
Fighting erupted 20 Aug in northern Gurez district, Indian army lieutenant and 12 suspected militants reported killed; army said militants tried to infiltrate Kashmir from Pakistan. Security forces 8 Aug reportedly killed 2 suspected members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group. Media 26 Aug reported LeT admitted responsibility for April killing of cleric Maulvi Showkat Ahmed.
PM Jhalanath Khanal (UML) 14 Aug resigned after 7 months in office under pressure from own party and opposition, following failure to reach agreement on integration and rehabilitation of over 19,000 former Maoist rebels. Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai voted new PM with support of Madhesi parties; second and third largest parties, Nepali Congress and UML, in opposition. Term of Constituent Assembly extended until 30 Nov.
Month saw mounting violence amid continued clashes between Pashtun, Mohajir ethnic groups, represented by political parties MQM and ANP in Karachi, leaving more than 100 dead. In Quetta gunmen late July killed 18 Shias, prompting angry demonstrations by Shia community; bomb blast 1 Aug in Hazar Ganji area killed 2; suicide car bomb 31 Aug killed 11 outside mosque. Twin blasts by militants in Peshawar 11 Aug killed 7. Roadside blast in Balochistan 14 Aug left 11 dead. Suspected suicide bombing 19 Aug at mosque in Khyber tribal agency killed 40. Bomb blast in Risalpur hotel in Nowshera district, Khyber Pakthunkhwa (KPK) 25 Aug killed 9. In N Waziristan U.S. drone strikes 10-22 Aug reportedly killed 25 militants including suspected members of Haqqani Network, al-Qaeda operation chief Atiyah Abd al-Rahman. In Lahore U.S. NGO head abducted by gunmen 13 Aug; son of assassinated Punjab governor Salman Taseer abducted 26 Aug also in Lahore. Court 12 Aug sentenced soldier to death over June murder of teenager in Karachi; 13 Aug convicted 7 over militant attack on Rawalpindi army HQ, sentenced 1 to death. 27 Aug cross-Afghan border attack by insurgents in KPK’s Chitral district killed 28 paramilitary personnel. 3 occupied checkposts recaptured.
President Rajapaksa 25 Aug announced govt would not renew state of emergency in Sept, in effect for most of past 30 years. Move welcomed, but govt 31 Aug reintroduced some emergency provisions through new legislation, retains broad emergency powers under repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act. Tamil and Muslim areas in N, E and central hills wracked by wave of alleged attacks on women and clashes with police and army, amid popular suspicions police and army protecting suspects; at least 5 killed in vigilante attacks, over 100 arrested. Main Tamil political alliance TNA 5 Aug suspended talks with govt until govt presents outline of political settlement; govt in response set up all-party parliamentary committee to propose “national unity” policies. 1 Aug Defence Ministry report for first time admitted civilian casualties during final months of civil war 2009 but denied war crimes, need for investigation. 5th anniversary of 2006 killing of 17 aid workers brought calls from rights advocates for effective investigation, end to impunity.
Wave of violence continued in Papua: unidentified gunmen 1 Aug killed 4, including 1 soldier, in Jayapura; police initially blamed separatist OPM, later said purely criminal. OPM fighters 3-4 Aug attacked army patrol in Puncak Jaya, 1 soldier killed. Thousands took part in pro-independence demonstrations across Papua 2 Aug. Home Affairs Ministry 3 Aug called emergency meeting between Aceh governor Irwandi yusuf and Partia Aceh (former GAM rebels) to solve local election dispute; no breakthrough, parties agreed to resume talks 5 Sept. Fugitive 2002 Bali bomber Umar Patek 10 Aug extradited to Indonesia from Pakistan; to face trial on murder and terrorism charges. Banten court 15 Aug sentenced member of Ahmadiyah sect who tried to protect property from Islamist mob to 6 months in prison for incitement; 3 mob members who killed 3 Ahmadiyah earlier sentenced to 3-6 months.
PM Razak 17 Aug proposed bipartisan parliamentary committee on electoral reform, following violent July crackdown on opposition protests demanding reform.
Continued signs of improving relationship between govt and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK): ASSK 19 Aug for first time met new President Thein Sein, said “happy and satisfied” with meeting; 14 Aug visited Bago in first political trip since 2010 release from house arrest. During late-month visit UN rights envoy 24 Aug met ASSK, 25 Aug urged govt to release all political prisoners. Lower house of parliament 26 Aug called for general amnesty for such prisoners. Thein Sein continued economic, small-scale political reforms, but yet to address release of political prisoners. Govt 18 Aug offered peace talks with all ethnic rebel groups through respective local executives; negotiations ongoing with Kachin Independence Organisation. Local Shan NGOs 10 Aug reported some 30,000 displaced by clashes in NE since March, alleged rape, abuses by army. State media 5 Aug claimed ethnic Kachin rebels killed 7 Chinese workers in Moemauk; rebels claimed those killed were soldiers.
President Aquino 4 Aug met MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim, first such high-level meeting since 1997 start of peace talks. Following late-month talks in Kuala Lumpur, MILF negotiating team rejected govt proposal as falling short of rebel demand for new sub-state; both sides said willing to continue talks. Mid-month land conflict killed 14, displaced thousands in Maguindanao; involved fighters from breakaway MILF commander Umbra Kato. MILF still maintains has yet to formally expel Kato; Central Committee to clarify by early Sept. 1 killed in 15 Aug bomb attack against convoy of Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu; Mangudadatu unharmed, blamed political rivals; police 18 Aug arrested suspect. 1 killed, 12 wounded in 1 Aug Cotabato City bomb blast. Army 8 Aug killed 3 Abu Sayyaf militants on Jolo island, followed late-July Abu Sayyaf killing of 8 troops.
Violence between rival martial arts groups erupted in Zumalai 14 Aug, with 1 policeman killed, some 70 homes burned; motive unclear. Formal demobilization ceremony held 20 Aug for 236 longest-serving veterans of Falintil guerrilla army, including PM Gusmão. Indonesian and TL defence ministers signed MoU 19 Aug committing to future training. Opposition party Fretilin 20 Aug held national poll of supporters for party leadership; no challengers to incumbents.
Parliament 5 Aug voted to elect Yingluck Shinawatra as new PM; King gave royal endorsement 8 Aug. Pheu Thai party to lead 6-party ruling coalition; Yingluck pledged to work for “unity and reconciliation”. Opposition Democrat Party 6 Aug re-elected ex-PM Abhisit as leader. Cambodia PM Hun Sen 5 Aug congratulated Yingluck, urged discussion on troop withdrawal from provisional demilitarised zone around disputed Preah Vihear temple. Opposition filed police complaint and threatened to impeach FM after Japan 15 Aug granted visa to exiled ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra. In south, suspected Islamic militants 3 Aug shot dead Buddhist teacher; 4 Aug killed 4 people, including Muslim teacher, in Pattani; 26 Aug killed 6 in Narathiwat bomb attack. Following joint visit to southern provinces with Defence Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapha, army chief Gen Prayuth 18 Aug said military not completely opposed to govt plan to turn 3 southern-most provinces into special administrative zone, but would inform govt about unanticipated consequences.
In eleventh consecutive month without state coalition govt, Republika Srpska (RS) president Dodik continued to make inflammatory comments, including call for state budget cut, allegations state wasting RS money, promise to open RS office in Sarajevo. OHR responded to Dodik’s comments “with great concern”.
Situation in North remains tense following crisis that erupted late July after Kosovo special police attempted to take control of border gates with Serbia in North; observers fear further violence if govt attempts to impose institutions on Serb-held North without prior agreement. After EU mediator failed to resolve crisis, KFOR commander Erhard Bühler early Aug brokered agreement whereby Gates 1 and 31 remain protected military zones under KFOR control, Gate 31 also operated by mixed Kosovo Police, no customs officials at either gate. Bühler 15 Aug reported all barricades removed. Deal valid until 15 Sept, dialogue resumes 2 Sept. In wake of crisis EULEX criticized by all sides; its investigation into burning of Gate 1 reportedly further raising tensions in North. Pristina promising further actions to enforce its sovereignty in North, ruled out discussing issue with Belgrade; observers fear violent reprisals by local Serbs. Fears also over possible Albanian nationalist reprisals against Serb communities elsewhere in Kosovo, and for future of EU-mediated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. UNSC 30 Aug condemned violence, called for resumption of dialogue. International authority including EULEX, KFOR damaged by crisis. EU leaders emphasizing dialogue and ruling out further unilateral acts, U.S. offering support to Pristina’s efforts in the North. EULEX appointed team to investigate allegations of organ trafficking following 1999 war, to be headed by U.S. prosecutor.
OSCE 11 Aug expressed concern over “sharp decline of media freedom”, urged Skopje to end media repression. NGO Reporters Without Borders said recent spate of closures of media outlets, media reforms and pressure on journalists “disastrous for Macedonian media”. Follows 8 Aug closure of leading privately-owned TV station A1 TV due to bankruptcy.
German leader Chancellor Merkel during Belgrade visit said Serbia must abandon parallel Serb institutions in North Kosovo as condition for progress on EU accession; President Tadic said Serbia will not “abandon” Kosovo Serbs.
7 opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) activists severely beaten, detained by police in Yerevan 9 Aug, charged with assaulting police; 6 later released, remaining detained activist facing lengthy prison sentence. Activists claimed they were targeted after confronting police conducting arbitrary search of citizens. After several rounds of negotiations between HAK and govt over month, HAK 26 Aug announced suspension of talks until remaining detained activist released.
Islamic Party of Azerbaijan (AIP) leader Movsum Samedov and 6 party activists on trial 4 Aug charged with calling for overthrow of govt. Charges rejected by activists, who claim political persecution. AIP Deputy chair Arif Ganiev, member Abgul Suleymanov, and editor of Islamic news website Ramin Bayramov detained 11 Aug, charged with illegal possession of weapons, drugs, suspected of “hostile activity against Azerbaijan”. Amid tense diplomatic relations with Iran, National Security Ministry said Suleymanov created radical Islamic group financed by Baku-based Cultural Center of Iran. Foreign Ministry 11 Aug formally protested alleged anti-Azerbaijani statements by Iranian official; Iranian Embassy in Baku 11 Aug called reports “media misunderstanding”. 6 opposition party activists sentenced 25 Aug to up to 3 years jail for involvement in April anti-govt protests.
In step further consolidating control in South Ossetia (SO) and Abkhazia, Russian President Medvedev 8 Aug submitted legislation to Duma to form customs union, recognize military bases in breakaway regions. Russian military 12 Aug opened new border post in SO. In context of Russia and Georgia WTO negotiations, Medvedev 4 Aug indicated WTO could serve as forum for restoring normal economic, diplomatic relations, but stressed Georgia could not change “political realities on the ground”. Georgian Deputy FM Sergei Kapanadze stated any agreement towards Russian WTO accession would be politically “status neutral”, voiced support for Swiss proposal involving exchange of advance information between countries, international monitoring. Russian FM Lavrov early Aug indicated for first time Russia ready to talk to current Georgian govt without preconditions. Russia criticized late July U.S. Senate resolution supporting Georgian territorial integrity, describing Russian presence as “occupation” of Abkhazia and SO. 26 Aug presidential election in Abkhazia, rejected by U.S. and EU, won by businessman Aleksandr Ankyab, former high ranking Communist party official regarded as more sceptical on Russian political and military influence in Abkhazia. Tbilisi criticised for forced evictions of IDPs from two locations prompting protests in capital.
Amid continued arms race between Armenia and Azerbaijan, commander of N-K de facto defence ministry Movses Hakobian 15 Aug reported N-K’s small “military”, which is well integrated with Armenia’s military and dependant on Yerevan for support, engaged in its own arms buildup over past year. During mid Aug visit to N-K Armenian Defence Minister spoke of need to maintain “battle worthy army” in N-K. Russian President Medvedev and Azerbaijani President Aliyev met 9 Aug, discussed N-K. Baku 23 Aug lodged formal protest with France over 4 French MPs’ 22 Aug visit to N-K.
Continued near-daily attacks by Islamist militants across region targeting civilians, officials. 9 people killed, 23 injured in attack by 3 suicide bombers near parliament building in Chechen capital Grozny 30 Aug; victims included police and civilians. Officials reported 16 suspected militants killed in security operations in Chechnya 17-18 Aug, including 4 killed in raid in Grozny led by Chechen president Kadyrov. Russian security forces 11 Aug reportedly killed 6 suspected militants, including alleged top commander Abdullah Magomedaliyev, in special operation in Dagestan capital Makhachkala; claimed Magomedaliyev had contacts with Georgian secret services. At least 42 people killed in Dagestan over month: 7 killed 9 Aug in fight between villages in Untsukulsky region; 2 people killed near mosque in Khasavyurt city 12 Aug; 6 suspected militants, 2 police killed 16-18 Aug in special operation in Khasavyurt; 21 people injured in explosions at shop in Makhachkala 21 Aug. Increased insurgent activity in Ingushetia: 2 policemen killed 3 Aug, 7 soldiers injured 15 Aug, senior police officer killed 18 Aug, FSB officer killed 27 Aug. Security services mid-Aug reported FSB foiled North Caucasus militant plot to blow up high-speed Moscow-St Petersburg train. Russian investigators 24 Aug arrested former police officer in connection with Oct 2006 murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, high profile critic of rights abuses in Chechnya.
Authorities arrested Ales Byalyatski, head of prominent rights group Vyasna, prompting international condemnation. President Lukashenka 11 Aug pardoned 9 out of 41 people convicted for role in Dec 2010 post-election protests; charges against leader of opposition United Civic Party and another opposition activist dropped late month. U.S. 11 Aug imposed new sanctions on Belarus over crackdown on protesters, covering 4 state-owned enterprises. Lukashenka 29 Aug proposed roundtable talks between govt and opposition.
Continued fallout from 11 July munitions explosion, including downgrading of Cyprus credit rating, parliamentary approval 26 Aug of emergency fiscal package. Turkish Cypriot president Eroğlu said Greek Cypriot cabinet reshuffling that followed blast should not affect ongoing reunifications negotiations. President Christofias and negotiations faced further set-back 4 Aug when Cyprus’ ruling coalition partner party DIKO quit govt, citing Christofias’ handling of reunification negotiations, inability to tackle economic crisis. Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders met for talks 23 Aug after 3 week break. Turkish govt requested U.S. postpone exploration for natural gas by U.S. company off Cyprus coast, claiming unilateral granting of concession by Cyprus illegal under international law, and citing concerns that discovery of gas could end desire of south to find solution; U.S. denied request.
Wave of attacks by PKK against security forces in southeast, some 30 security personnel killed during month. In retaliation Turkish military bombarded PKK bases in northern Iraq, claimed up to 160 rebels killed, PKK said few casualties; Iraq criticised military action as violation of border. Federal prosecutor 3 Aug charged 106 Kurdish politicians with terrorist propaganda, including for demanding better conditions for jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Senior Military Council led by PM Erdoğan named 4 new military commanders following 29 July resignation of chief of general staff, commanders of army, airforce and navy. FM Davutoğlu 15 Aug issued “final word” to Syrian President Assad to end immediately military operations against civilians, said in context of human rights situation not “domestic issue”. Meeting of Syrian opposition 20 Aug to set up transitional council hosted in Istanbul.
Following early July clashes between security forces and armed group in NW, 1 policeman killed 29 July in shootout with unidentified gunmen in Aktobe. Officials 30 Aug announced killing of individual allegedly planning “terrorist acts” in Atyrau region in SW. Continued protests by oil and gas workers over pay, conditions in W Mangistau province. Court 9 Aug sentenced lawyer advising striking workers to 6 years prison for inciting social disorder; communist party leader in W Kazakhstan fined 10 Aug for taking part in protests. Authorities 13 Aug blocked 13 foreign internet sites including LiveJournal for promoting terrorism, religious extremism. Collective Security Treaty Organisation summit in Astana discussed Kyrgyzstan, concerns over radicalisation and possible spill-over from Afghanistan.
Ahead of Oct presidential elections, 83 candidates nominated by mid-month deadline, including Kamchybek Tashiyev from dominant Ata-Jurt party and current PM Almazbek Atambayev (SDPK). Special Forces operation 1 Aug detained 1 militiaman, confiscated arms cache in Alamudun district. Chechen individual wanted by Russian FSB arrested near Bishkek for alleged involvement in terrorist acts in North Caucasus. Senior security official and presidential candidate Marat Imankulov 24 Aug resigned, said State Committee for National Security being used to protect top officials’ interests. Authorities 25 Aug reportedly allocated land in South for ethnic Kyrgyz from Uzbekistan seeking to resettle.
Talks continued with Russia over possible lease of strategic military base, future of Russian military presence. Authorities 19 Aug reportedly opened cases against 22 former students at Islamic universities and religious schools in effort to crack down on Islamism. BBC reporter detained in June over alleged membership of Hizbut-Tahrir 19 Aug accused authorities of torturing him. Parliament unanimously approved amnesty bill for 15,000 people including 4,000-plus prisoners, including some political prisoners.
Parliament 5 Aug announced presidential elections to be held 12 Feb 2012 in accordance with UN and OSCE standards, invited international observers to attend. 40 people sentenced mid-month to lengthy prison terms in connection with July explosion at ammunition dump in Abadan; residents denied govt claims it had provided repairs, compensation. President Berdymukhammedov 25 Aug reportedly ordered removal of all private satellite dishes to “protect architectural environment”.
12 Uzbek asylum seekers extradited from Kazakhstan on trial for religious extremism charges, alleged membership of Jihadchilar group. Authorities 11 Aug tightened control over internet, blocked several western and Russian news sites.
Series of anti-govt protests from groups traditionally considered ruling MAS party’s support base: indigenous organisations Cidob and Conamaq 15 Aug began protest to block plans to build highway through indigenous territory and national park, among other requests. President Morales accused U.S. of instigating protest; negotiations with govt so far unsuccessful.
FARC guerrillas early month expressed support for dialogue with govt in statements to Barrancabermeja grassroots peace conference; President Santos 16 Aug said open to talks, but guerrillas should give “more reliable proof” of willingness to end conflict. Senate Peace Commission 10 Aug submitted recommendations for new framework for future demobilizations, eventual peace process. July report by NGO Nuevo Arco Iris predicted 2,200 rebel attacks for 2011, up from 1,947 in 2010; increase attributed to changing guerrilla tactics, guerrillas fortifying in SW. Govt 7 Aug announced new security strategy in response. 5 police killed in explosion 27 Aug by suspected rebels in North. Ahead of Oct local elections, NGO Electoral Observation Mission 17 Aug stated 544 out of 1,102 municipalities at risk of electoral fraud, 447 face risk of violence. Fight within Cambio Radical party over candidate endorsements triggered change in party leadership, withdrawal of support for over 300 candidates. U.S. 22 Aug denied media report that U.S. aid to Colombia had been used by intelligence service DAS to fund illegal wiretappings. Defence Minister Rodrigo Riviera resigned 31 Aug.
National Assembly (NA) 11 Aug elected 2 supporters of President Correa’s ruling Alianza País (AP) as VPs of NA; move means AP gains significant influence in NA.
Following June-July violent prison riots, new prisons minister 3 Aug suspended admission of new prisoners until further notice; later suggested 20,000 prisoners should be released to address overcrowding. Govt 17 Aug announced plans to nationalise gold industry, repatriate gold reserves from foreign banks to “friendly countries”, including Brazil, China. President Chávez 11 Aug said cancer treatment going “well”, illness “not serious”. Chávez criticised internally for continued support for Libyan dictator Qaddafi. Chávez 17 Aug announced new $4bn arms deal with Russia.
Former first lady Sandra Torres 8 Aug lost final appeal to Constitutional Court against ban on her presidential candidacy; Torres said accepted decision, but urged supporters to vote blank in Oct presidential elections. Violence continued ahead of polls: several campaign workers killed including Jutiapa department coordinator of National Centre Union (UCN) party 6 Aug. Court 2 Aug sentenced 4 ex-soldiers to 6,060 years in prison for involvement in 1982 massacre of 250 civilians. President Colom 13 Aug extended state of siege in Petén department by 1 month. Constitutional Court 26 Aug authorized extradition of former President Portillo to U.S..
President Martelly yet to form govt or appoint PM: Senate 2 August rejected Martelly’s 2nd PM nominee Bernard Gousse. Co-chair of reconstruction committee IHRC Bill Clinton stressed urgency of forming govt to move forward with reconstruction. IHRC 18 Aug announced new $78mn housing project to resettle some 30,000 IDPs. Shootings in Port-au-Prince continued amid deteriorating security: shots fired 19 Aug at Justice and Public Security ministry, no injuries.
At least 52 people killed 25 Aug in arson attack on casino in Monterrey; 5 suspected members of drug cartel arrested. Kidnapped journalist found shot dead 25 Aug in Culiacan, Sinaloa. At least 25 killed, many taxi drivers, in Acapulco, Guerrero 15-20 Aug. Govt 7 Aug confirmed media reports U.S. has deployed CIA, DEA “advisers” to Mexico to assist fight against cartels. 21 of 31 federal prosecutors resigned 1 Aug; Attorney General refused to confirm if resignations linked to recent purge of corrupt officials. At least 5 influential cartel leaders arrested, including in Morelia, Ciudad Juarez and Acapulco. Authorities 29 Aug announced grave containing 7 bodies found in Chihuahua.
Militants 18 Aug killed 8 Israelis including 6 civilians in S Israel close to Egyptian border; 5 Egyptian police killed in IDF operation responding to attack, as Israeli officials claimed gunmen infiltrated from Gaza Strip via Egypt; 3 attackers identified as Egyptian. Cairo threatened to recall envoy to Tel Aviv; IDF expressed regret. IDF 18 Aug began series of airstrikes on Gaza in retaliation: at least 19 Palestinians killed including Popular Resistance Committees, Islamic Jihad leaders. Strikes and rocket launchings continued despite 23 Aug ceasefire agreement between Hamas, Israel. Israel 17 Aug refused to endorse U.S.-supported “package of understanding” with Turkey for May 2010 deadly raid on Gaza-bound protest flotilla, opting instead for continuation of UN inquiry. Govt approved more than 2,700 new settler homes in East Jerusalem, West Bank. Knesset 16 Aug broke recess to debate 4-week protest by tens of thousands over living costs; PM Netanyahu formed panel to recommend possible reforms. PA President Abbas 16 Aug confirmed plans to apply for full UN membership at UNSC in Sept. Leaders from Fatah, Hamas same day held reconciliation talks in Cairo, agreed to meet again early Sept.
King Abdullah 15 Aug backed proposals for constitutional reforms devolving some of his powers to parliament, enhancing civil liberties; activists said reforms did not go far enough. Continued popular protests against corruption and economic disparities after PM Marouf al-Bakhit and 13 former cabinet members cleared by parliament of corruption charges 10 Aug. Peaceful protest calling for political reform 13 Aug attacked by thugs in Karak; violence denounced by opposition.
UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) 17 Aug published full indictment against 4 Hizbollah members suspected of assassinating former PM Rafiq Hariri. STL 19 Aug said it will widen probe by investigating 3 other attacks on politicians linked to Hariri bombing. Lebanese and Israeli soldiers 1 Aug exchanged fire along Blue Line in Wazzani area; each blamed other for exchange, UNIFIL opened investigation. At least 2 killed, 6 injured 6 Aug in clashes between rival Palestinian factions in southern Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp. 2 killed in bomb explosion 11 Aug in north Beirut suburb; no claim of responsibility. Govt 4 Aug disassociated itself from UNSC statement condemning violence in Syria; FM Mansour 7 Aug met President Assad in Damascus, reiterated govt’s rejection of interference in Syrian affairs.
Thousands took part in end of Ramadan anti-govt protests across country, despite increased crackdown on major flashpoint cities; UN 23 Aug reported govt forces killed nearly 2,200 since unrest erupted mid-March. Armoured forces backed by tanks and snipers continued to crush protests in Daraa, Damascus, Homs, Latakia, Deir el-Zour and elsewhere. At least 45 people reported killed 3 Aug in military assault in Hama. Navy gunboats 14 Aug began firing on coastal city Latakia killing at least 28; 5,000 Palestinians also driven from al-Ramal camp. UNSC 3 Aug released first statement condemning rights violations against protesters. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah 6 Aug recalled envoy to Syria, urged President Assad to “stop the killing machine”. Arab League 7 Aug for first time condemned action of Syrian authorities; Sec Gen Nabil al-Arabi visited Syria 28 Aug. UNOHCHR 18 Aug published report on crackdown, recommended referral to ICC over possible crimes against humanity; UNHRC 24 Aug ordered independent investigation into violence. U.S., EU same day urged UN sanctions, called for Assad to step down; Washington froze all Syrian assets under U.S. jurisdiction. Foreign ministry rebutted western accusations, said regime facing threat from “terrorists”; Assad 21 Aug said govt will not fall.
Almost daily skirmishes between anti-govt protests and security forces. Teenager reportedly killed by police 31 Aug during forceful dispersion of anti-govt protest in Sitra. International commission investigating unrest 16 Aug closed its office after protesters scuffled with staff following reports govt officials cleared of wrongdoing; commission said no conclusions made, probe will continue. More than 100 detainees, arrested for role in anti-govt protests, released 7 Aug, including 2 opposition MPs, though some may still be prosecuted in civilian courts. Al Wefaq, main Shiite opposition party, 12 Aug announced boycott of Sept special parliamentary election.
FM Salehi 17 Aug said Tehran ready to resume negotiations over its nuclear program under Russian proposal. Senior IAEA official mid-month visited main atomic sites, first visit since 2008. Revolutionary Guards commander Rostam Ghasemi, currently under international sanctions, named oil minister 3 Aug. Security forces 1 Aug killed 3 militants, arrested 4 suspected of 29 July gas pipeline blast in West Azerbaijan. Authorities 20 Aug jailed 2 U.S. tourists for 8 years for spying; 23 Aug sentenced alleged Israeli spy to death for murder of nuclear scientist. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei 27 Aug pardoned 100 prisoners to mark Eid al-Fitr, including some arrested during 2009 post-election protests. Salehi 27 Aug called on Syrian President Assad to recognise people’s “legitimate” demands.
Escalation in violence throughout month; deadliest day of year 15 Aug with some 90 people killed, 300 injured in series of over 40 nationwide attacks. Govt 3 Aug announced readiness to open formal discussions with U.S. on keeping troops beyond scheduled year-end withdrawal; radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr 9 Aug called for U.S. troops to leave or risk more attacks. Tensions with Ankara after Turkish airstrikes on PKK bases in Iraqi-Kurdistan (see Turkey). Several rockets fired from Iraq hit border area with Kuwait near site of controversial Kuwaiti mega-port; no claim of responsibility.
Hundreds of thousands continued to protest nation-wide for President Saleh to step down. Scores killed in ongoing clashes between Islamist militants, army and allied tribesmen in southern Abyan province, including 24 Aug clash with army in Zinjibar, close to 100 killed. Despite truce, renewed violence 6 Aug between tribesmen loyal to al-Ahmar and pro-govt Republican Guard in Hasaba; clashes continued between anti-govt tribesmen and Republican Guard in southern city Taiz; at least 23 tribesmen killed 16 Aug in fighting with Republican Guard in Ahrab region. President Saleh 17 Aug said he would return to Yemen soon, would not transfer power except through elections. Opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) 7 Aug issued statement denying connection with June assassination attempt on Saleh; speaker of upper house 23 Aug died from injuries sustained in attack. Opposition leaders 17 Aug formed 143-member National Council charged with electing 20-member executive committee to act as political leadership for protest movement.
Govt 29 Aug granted refuge to wife and 3 children of fugitive Libyan leader Colonel Qaddafi; Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) called move “act of aggression”, will seek extradition. 18 killed 26 Aug in suicide bombing of military academy in coastal town Cherchell; al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility, accused govt of supporting Qaddafi regime. At least 29 injured 14 Aug in AQIM suicide bombing of police HQ in eastern Tizi Ouzou.
Trial of ousted President Mubarak began 3 Aug in Cairo court, accused of complicity in killing of protesters and graft; judge ended live TV broadcast 15 Aug to “protect public interest”. Armed forces 1 Aug forcefully dispersed several dozen protesters from Cairo’s Tahrir Square after most groups 31 July suspended 3-week sit-in for Ramadan. 1 Coptic Christian killed, 4 Muslims wounded 7 Aug in sectarian clashes in southern Minya province. Muslim Brotherhood, country’s largest political group, 13 Aug warned military rulers not to interfere in writing of new constitution, after Deputy PM Ali al-Silimi 11 Aug said govt may lay down basic tenets before elections. Army 15 Aug began operation in N Sinai involving about 1,000 troops in coordination with Israel after spike in attack on security forces in region including 30 July assault on police station that killed 6. 5 policemen killed by Israeli army 18 Aug responding to cross-border attack by militants on southern Israel; Egypt threatened to withdraw envoy to Tel Aviv (see Israel/OPT).
Month saw breakthrough with rebels gaining control of most of western Libya, seizing key towns including Zlitan and Zawiya before taking most of Tripoli 21 Aug; 23 Aug stormed Qaddafi Bab al-Azizia compound. Transitional National Council (TNC) 24 Aug reported 400 people killed during battle for capital, amidst reports of mass executions by pro-regime forces. Rebels late-month launched offensive towards remaining regime stronghold of Sirte, Qaddafi’s birthplace. Negotiations between rebels and local loyalist forces ongoing. Amid intense efforts to transfer frozen Libyan assets to TNC, UNSC agreed to unfreeze $1.5bn. UNSG Ban 26 Aug declared UNSC support for rapid deployment of UN mission to Libya. Leaked UN report 29 Aug revealed plans for 200 military observers, 190 UN police; TNC 31 Aug rejected international peacekeepers. TNC 25 Aug began relocating to Tripoli; at least 57 countries including Egypt, Tunisia now recognising TNC. TNC split regarding possible ICC trial of Qaddafi. Qaddafi 24 Aug announced intention to fight until “martyrdom or victory”, amid confused claims over fate of his sons. Several members of Qaddafi family granted refuge by Algeria. Qaddafi’s Interior Minister Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah 15 Aug fled to Egypt, PM Ali al-Mahmoudi 22 Aug reportedly in Tunisia, amid steady stream of senior defections. Relatives of slain rebel general Abdel Fattah Younes 2 Aug warned they would seek justice if TNC fails to conduct full investigation; TNC 8 Aug announced reshuffle citing procedural errors in handling case.
Parliamentary and municipal elections due 25 Sept and 16 Oct postponed indefinitely 26 Aug, precondition of opposition parties’ participation in govt-proposed talks.
Early legislative elections set for 25 Nov, part of King Mohammed VI’s pledge for democratic reforms. February 20 movement continued to organise peaceful protests each weekend demanding social justice, crackdown on corruption. Young bread vendor 7 Aug carried out self-immolation in eastern Berkane, motives unclear; police 9 Aug denied abuse accusations. Trial of 9 suspects in deadly April bombing in Marrakech delayed until 22 Sept; al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb denied involvement in attack.
Protesters early month calling for judicial reform after Saida Agrebi, confidant to former president Ben Ali, fled country 30 July; govt 9 Aug fired public prosecutor. Court 12 Aug sentenced 25 relatives of Ben Ali including his wife to prison terms; former security chief Ali Seriati acquitted of forgery, still faces charges of plotting against state security. Only 52% of potential voters reportedly registered for Oct Assembly elections despite extension of deadline.