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Two actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and one improved in July 2010, according to the new issue of the International Crisis Group’s monthly bulletin CrisisWatch released today.
In Somalia militant Islamist group al-Shabaab demonstrated for the first time its capability to spread conflict and bloodshed more widely across the region by launching suicide bomb attacks on Kampala, Uganda that killed at least 85 people. The bombings came after explicit warnings by al-Shabaab that they would take revenge on Uganda and Burundi for their troop contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which supports the transitional government against the Islamist group. Despite threats by al-Shabaab leader Sheikh Abu-Zubeyr of further strikes on Kampala and in Burundi, the two countries maintained their resolve to take on the insurgency and committed to send more troops to AMISOM. In Somalia itself scores of civilians were killed as renewed fighting broke out between al-Shabaab and government forces to the north of Mogadishu.
In stark contrast, the situation in Somaliland improved in July, with the peaceful transfer of power to successful opposition candidate Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo following the June presidential elections. Both the conduct of the elections and the work of the National Election Commission won international praise and point to the consolidation of Somaliland’s democratic transformation.
July saw further political violence and a shrinking of the democratic space in Rwanda ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for August. The killing of opposition politician Andre Kagwa Rwisereka is the latest in a series of attacks on high-profile government critics. Although the government denies any involvement, this month’s events should be seen as part of an alarming trend towards repression and intimidation, which could have serious security implications come next month’s elections.
Electoral commission 27 July announced President Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD party won 81 of 106 seats in 23 July elections for lower house of parliament. Provisional results released 30 July indicated ruling party also won 32 out of 34 lower house seats in 28 July senate elections, boycotted by opposition. Police 10-11 July arrested 11 FNL members accused of attacks targeting ruling party; FNL claimed 50 arrested, EU observation mission stated total 242 arrests since May beginning of electoral process. 2 FNL cadres excluded from party 5 July for “insubordination” after criticising FNL elections boycott. FNL president Rwasa, still in hiding, issued message 8 July denying he was planning insurgency. Journalist Jean Claude Kavumbagu arrested 17 July on treason charges after questioning ability of security forces to face terror attacks. Reports emerged 26 July ADC coalition spokesman and opposition CNDD leader Leonard Nyungoma fled country fearing arrest. Public Works Minister Kanyenkiko 20 July resigned from FRODEBU executive committee and party in protest at election boycott.
Leader of outlawed Anglophone self-determination movement SCNC Nfor Ngala Nfor 8 July demanded release of 50 SCNC members allegedly detained arbitrarily. EU 15 July granted EUR4mn for infrastructure in Bakassi peninsula, peace-building and regional integration activities.
CPJP rebels and MLCJ dissidents attacked Birao in NE 19 July; targeted army base, looted NGO compound. Army says 13 attackers, 1 soldier killed. Poachers killed 6 presidential guards in ambush 8-9 July near Bassangoa. UNDP 13 July began verification of ex-combatant lists for DDR in northwest. Visiting CAR 9-10 July, UN Rep for IDPs Kaelin said return of 200,000 IDPs vital to peace. LRA attacked Madabazouma village in southeast 4 July, killed 5, kidnapped 7. President Bozize ended election calendar uncertainty in 30 July decree scheduling presidential and parliamentary elections for 23 Jan 2011.
Chad-Sudan relations strengthened over month: Khartoum 18 July expelled Chadian rebel leaders Erdimi (RFC), Nouri (UFDD) and Tollimi (UFR), while N’djamena defied ICC arrest warrant for Sudanese President Bashir, hosting him 22-23 July at regional summit despite ICC and EU calls for his arrest. Govt 1 July accepted international experts’ participation in inquiry into Feb 2008 disappearance of opposition leader Mahmat Saleh. Govt same day adopted law increasing parliament seats from 155 to 186 to even regional imbalances, as suggested by electoral commission (CENI). Opposition 8 July questioned accuracy of seat allocation, CENI’s impartiality. President Déby 6 July dismissed governor of eastern Ouaddai province where insecurity has soared in recent months. MINURCAT 15 July completed first withdrawal phase, pulled out 1,400 troops.
Wide-ranging security concerns persisted across eastern DRC. In North Kivu, ongoing FARDC operation “Ruwenzori”, launched 27 June, against Ugandan ADF-NALU rebels near Beni triggered clashes in Eringeti area; FARDC 12 July said 13 rebels killed, 5 rebels and 10 associates arrested. ADF 27 July reportedly ambushed civilian truck in east Beni; 15 killed. Massive FARDC presence in Beni, Butembo areas coincided with increased violence and killing of prominent civilians. OCHA 19 July reported over 70,000 displaced; new mission MONUSCO launched 1 July, 20 July set up temporary bases to facilitate humanitarian assistance. Orientale province saw increased small-scale LRA attacks in Niangara, Bangadi and Faradje areas; 7 killed in early month LRA attacks on Faradje and Dungu. 20 arrested 11 July during pro-secession demonstration in Lubumbashi. 19 alleged ex-FDLR arrested 3 July having fled resettlement camps in Kisenge, Katanga due to poor living conditions; local authorities requested repatriation to Rwanda. In western Equateur province, political leader of Enyele rebels Mambenga arrested 3 July and transferred to Kinshasa. ICC judges 15 July ordered release of Thomas Lubanga after Chief Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo refused order to provide information to judges; release suspended following appeal by prosecutor 17 July. ICC 7 July postponed Jean Pierre Bemba trial; defence’s challenge to admissibility of case not decided. New Independent National Electoral Commission officially launched 30 July to prepare for 2011 elections.
Growing political violence, shrinking of democratic space ahead of 9 Aug presidential election. Democratic Green Party VP and ex-RPF-turned-critic Andre Kagwa Rwisereka found dead 14 July; Rwisereka’s business partner arrested same day for murder; Green Party, rights groups calling for independent inquiry. Editor of independent newspaper Umurabyo and 2 journalists arrested 13 July for article likening President Kagame to Hitler. Tanzanian ICTR defence lawyer Mwaikusa killed 13 July in Dar-Es-Salaam. Electoral campaign for 9 Aug presidential polls started 20 July; only 4 parties admitted: ruling RPF, PL, SDP and PPC. FDU and Democratic Green Party candidates remained barred. Close to 2,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees forcefully repatriated out of Uganda 14 July with Rwandan police participation (see Uganda).
UN USG Pascoe 20 July informed UNSC Qatar had confirmed Eritrean troop withdrawal from disputed Ras Doumeira and Doumeira island in Djibouti and deployed military observers. Eritrean representative called for lifting of 2009 sanctions, withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Eritrean territories as decided by Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission.
Highest court 20 July rejected case brought by opposition challenging May parliamentary election results.
Concerns over political violence persisted ahead of 4 Aug constitutional referendum. Early month intimidation of “migrants” in Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces triggered pre-emptive population displacement. Govt deployed thousands of additional security forces to potential political hotspots where majority indigenous ethnic groups oppose new constitution’s proposed land redistribution reforms. 3 arrested 17 July over alleged plot to bomb scheduled Christian rally in Mombasa where Church leaders oppose new charter’s abortion clause. 2 opinion polls 23 July indicated majority support for proposed constitution. Authorities blamed al-Shabaab for 20 July attack on Kenyan border post; 1 officer reportedly killed, 1 wounded.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for 11 July bomb attacks in Kampala killing at least 85 (see Uganda), confirming group’s intent to drive foreign forces out of Somalia and demonstrating capability to export conflict to wider region. Al-Shabaab leader Sheikh Mukhtar Abu-Zubeyr 15 July threatened further Kampala attacks, warned Burundi would be targeted next. AU said it would increase AMISOM’s strength to 8,000 troops and allow forces to pre-emptively attack al-Shabaab. Guinea, Djibouti, Uganda and Burundi among countries ready to send more troops. Scores of civilians killed as renewed fighting broke out 18 July between al-Shabaab and govt forces north of Mogadishu. Reports emerged 21 July of AU internal documents issued Apr and June expressing concern over AMISOM’s indiscriminate shelling of residential areas. 13 alleged al-Shabaab killed in northern Puntland late July during clashes with govt forces pursuing southerners alleged to pose security threat to region. Also in Puntland, militia leader Skeikh Mohamed Saiid Atom 28 July declared allegiance to al-Shabaab and vowed jihad in semi-autonomous state; al-Shabaab spokesman in Mogadishu denied links. International Maritime Bureau reported attacks in Gulf of Aden dropped by nearly two-thirds in first half of 2010 compared to 2009 but rose in Somali basin and wider Indian Ocean.
Defeated incumbent President Kahin 26 July peacefully transferred power to successful opposition candidate Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo, after National Election Commission (NEC) announced Silanyo, Kulmiye Party, won 26 June presidential election; results endorsed 11 July by Chief Justice. EU heads of mission praised peaceful elections, commended NEC.
ICC 12 July issued second arrest warrant for President Bashir including charges of genocide in Darfur; AU Chair Jean Ping 16 July criticised ICC action as “counterproductive”, Arab League rejected charge. Bashir arrived in Chad for official visit 20 July (see Chad). 19-27 July AU Summit issued communiqué rejecting ICC indictment of Bashir. Renewed fighting in Darfur between govt forces and JEM commenced 13 July; govt claimed 300 rebels and at least 70 SAF killed during 5-day period. Bashir 19 July rejected Govt of South Sudan (GoSS) President Salva Kiir’s initiative to mediate with SLA and JEM who remain outside Qatar peace talks. In South, concern over referendum preparations highlighted 14 July in joint 26-member NGO report calling on AU to urgently address “alarming” lack of readiness; Human Rights Watch report warned of “widespread abuses” ahead of referendum. UNSC 30 July unanimously renewed UNAMID mandate until 31 July 2011; Sudanese officials 31 July claimed UN peacekeepers in Darfur now required to inform Khartoum of all movement, UNAMID spokesman said unaware of any such official request.
Somali Islamist militia al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for 11 July bomb attacks in Kampala which resulted in 85 deaths and at least 60 injured, confirming longstanding fears of regional threat posed by al-Shabaab. Attacks came after several explicit warnings al-Shabaab would “bring war to Uganda and Burundi” in revenge for troop contribution to AMISOM supporting Somali transitional govt. More than 20 suspects, including Pakistani, Ethiopian and Somali nationals arrested in following days, majority released 22 July; 3 arrested Kenyans 30 July charged with murder, terrorism, 10 counts of attempted murder. President Museveni 15 July pledged continued commitment to AMISOM, pronounced Uganda’s intent to go on the offensive against al-Shabaab. Close to 2,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees forcefully repatriated to Rwanda 14 July with Rwandan police participation; 2 killed. UNHCR 16 July condemned violation of refugee rights; govt 20 July defended action claiming those repatriated had no refugee status and posed security risk.
No breakthrough in political impasse. SADC evaluation mission met with all major protagonists 4-8 July; head of SADC mediation team Joaquim Chissano arrived 22 July to continue efforts, reiterated all options remained open, not limited to prior agreements in Maputo and Addis Ababa. National Coordination of Civil Society Organisations (CNOSC) late month issued founding declaration: aims to end crisis through national mediation, rebuild country through comprehensive, all-inclusive consultation and reconciliation. Justice Minister dismissed pleas by ACP-EU parliamentary delegation 10-11 July to release all political prisoners, denied political detentions.
Reports of attacks on migrant workers in Cape Town, Johannesburg townships saw deployment of police and army reinforcements to quell violence, with fears of repeat of 2008 deadly xenophobic attacks. Several injured, scores of Zimbabweans and other immigrants reportedly leaving country.
Constitutional consultations underway since mid-June continued. Amid NGO allegations of ZANU-PF intimidation of villagers to back views of the party, Constitutional Parliamentary Committee early month called for arrest of civil society workers monitoring public consultation process. ZANU-PF deputy legal affairs secretary Patrick Chinamasa 14 July stated party will use legal means to block any draft constitution not reflecting its views. MDC 6 July released report naming over 11,000 perpetrators of political violence since March 2008, stating over 500 MDC members/supporters murdered by ZANU-PF militants or state security agents during period. Finance Minister Biti said President Mugabe and senior army officers implicated in atrocities should not be prosecuted if they leave office voluntarily. Supreme Court 28 July adjourned indefinitely hearing of state appeal against May acquittal of MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett on treason charges. National executive committees of ZANU-PF and 2 MDC parties met for first time since formation of unity govt 21 July to discuss ways to end political violence. Members of Kimberly Process Certification Scheme 15 July agreed to allow Zimbabwe to export some diamonds from controversial Marange fields; followed MDC joining calls by ZANU-PF for exports to be allowed. Zimbabwean delegation met with EU High Rep Ashton in Brussels 2 July to discuss normalising relations; Ashton called for more democratic, human rights reforms. Mugabe 7 July claimed country would not need Western aid to revive economy. FAO 27 July reported increased agricultural output since 2009, improved food security.
PM Soro 23 July resigned as head of FN. ECOWAS 3 July renewed mediator mandate of Burkinabé President Campaoré, urged govt to hold oft-delayed elections before 2011. Demonstrators protested in Dadane and Touba 4 July against embezzlement inquiry into PM Soro and Interior Minister Tagro, claiming inquiry is attempt to stall peace process. Electoral commission 5 July issued preliminary voters list with 5.7mn voters; final review started 20 July. EU 5 July froze funds for elections due to lack of progress. 3 journalists fined 26 July for leaking documents of judicial inquiry into corruption in cocoa sector.
Cellou Diallo (UFDG) and Alpha Condé (RPG) qualified for second round of presidential polls with 43% and 18% of vote respectively following 27 June elections. Diallo signed agreement with 3rd-placed Sidya Touré (UFR) 28 July. Delays in vote counting fuelled claims of fraud and tensions: police 5 July used teargas against protesters in Conakry; 20 candidates challenged poll results, but Supreme Court 20 July confirmed numbers. PM Doré 17 July said security forces foiled suspected plot to destabilise country, arrested suspects, gave no further details. President Konaté 1 July rehabilitated 16 officers accused of 1985 coup plot; 3 July promoted all soldiers between corporal and major by 1 rank, 14 July promoted regional governors.
Relations between govt and international partners strained since 26 June nomination of 1 Apr mutiny chief General Indjai as army chief of staff: ECOWAS 3 July condemned appointment; EU 5 July announced reassessment of support and end of SSR mission for Nov 2010; U.S. withdrew offer to support SSR. U.S. 15 July called for global sanctions against former navy chiefs Na Tchuto and Papa Camara for alleged involvement in drug trafficking. UNSC 22 July urged govt to free or try suspects in Apr mutiny and bring military under civilian control, voiced concern over rise in drug trafficking.
Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) 11 July threatened to kill French hostage Michel Germaneau if France did not meet demands for prisoner swap. French, Mauritanian forces conducted military operation 22 July, killing 6 militants; Mali govt said not consulted. AQIM said Germaneau executed 24 July. Paris 27 July said “at war” with AQIM, French FM Kouchner same day met President Touré. Govt 1 July said Algerian forces can pursue AQIM in Mali following AQIM’s late-June killings of gendarmes in Algeria.
Reports emerged late month series of elections to be delayed by 1 month with presidential elections moved to 31 Jan, presidential inauguration to 8 Apr; followed 3 July electoral commission official announcement presidential elections will be held 3 Jan, inauguration 11 March. Commission same day said US$57mn needed to fund presidential, legislative elections. Media reported ousted ex-President Mamdou Tandja claiming he is too ill to be tried amid ongoing investigations by anti-corruption commission. Police 29 July announced arrest of former PM Oumarou on corruption charges. Niger, Burkina Faso 20 July asked ICJ to settle border dispute.
New head of electoral commission Attahiru Jega took office 1 July, promising sweeping reforms of body. Constitutional amendments passed by Senate 22 July and House of Representatives 27 July requiring elections be held 120-150 days before end of presidential term to allow time to resolve legal challenges; brings forward election date to Jan 2011 instead of Apr. Debate within ruling People’s Democratic Party over “zoning” policy, under which party’s candidates for president alternate between north and south, continued; President Jonathan yet to announce candidacy. Former deputy leader of radical Islamic sect Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, whom police claimed to have killed in July 2009 uprising, issued statement 14 July expressing solidarity with al-Qaeda in Iraq, threatening U.S. Isolated incidents of violence continued in middle belt/north: Christian and Muslim youths clashed in Wukari, Taraba State, 13 July in dispute over location of mosque, 4 killed; suspected Fulani Muslims 17 July attacked Christian community near Jos, Plateau State, 8 killed; Shiite, Sunni clash in Sokoto 20 July left 4 injured. Security forces 22 July defused bomb found in building in Jos. In Niger Delta, govt re-started rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for ex-militants, despite minor hitches. 1,000 self-proclaimed ex-militants 7 July staged protest in Abuja against exclusion from retraining programme. Gunmen blew up country home of impeached deputy governor of Bayelsa state 23 July against backdrop of political tensions between governor and deputy governor. Senate president David Mark 15 July called for state of emergency in southeastern states to stem increasing cases of kidnapping, including of 4 journalists and driver seized in Abia State 11 July, freed following week.
UNSC 9 July issued presidential statement condemning “attack which led to the sinking of the Republic of Korea naval ship Cheonan”, but avoided directly blaming N Korea. NK Permanent Secretary to UN hailed UNSC statement as “great diplomatic victory” for Pyongyang. U.S.-led UN Command and NK met 3 times in DMZ; UN called sinking violation of 1953 armistice. U.S. Sec State Clinton, Sec Defense Gates travelled to S Korea 21 July in show of solidarity, announced new sanctions against NK targeting sale or purchase of arms used to fund regime’s nuclear activities. Gates said 25-28 July U.S.-S Korea naval drills would send “strongsignal”of deterrence; NK National Defence Commission vowed 24 July to respond with “powerful nuclear deterrence” and “sacred war”. Chinese FM Yang 25 July repeated call for restraint from all sides. S Korea FM Yu 18 July said Seoul not prepared to return to 6 Party Talks, suspects NK may use talks to divert attention from sinking of Cheonan.
International conference in Kabul 20 July said Afghan forces to take full control of security by 2014, in some provinces by end 2010; endorsed President Karzai’s reintegration program for low-level Taliban fighters. Late month leak of some 75,000 classified U.S. military documents, posted on whistleblowing website, detailed alleged Pakistani ISI support to Taliban, ISAF cover-ups of civilian deaths; U.S. Sec Defense Gates condemned leak as dangerous, irresponsible. Govt 18 July signed new cross-border trade deal with Pakistan, removing some curbs and expanding communication links; bill still pending approval in both countries’ parliaments. Local anti-graft NGO 8 July reported corruption in Afghanistan more than doubled since 2006, now above levels during Taliban rule. General David Petraeus officially took command of U.S., ISAF forces 4 July. ISAF denied govt’s 26 July claim 52 civilians killed in mid-month Helmand NATO rocket attack. Independent Electoral Complaints Commission 7 July blocked “dozens” of candidates from Sept parliamentary elections over ties to militants. UK govt early month said will withdraw troops from Sangin region (Helmand) due to heavy losses; to be replaced by U.S. troops.
Govt 14 July arrested 2 top Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party leaders for alleged war crimes committed during 1971 independence war; JI claims govt trying to cripple its leadership, with 3 other JI leaders held late June on various charges. Govt 13 July restructured BDR border force, responsible for Feb 2009 mutiny, renamed Border Guard Bangladesh; further 801 BDR soldiers charged 12 July with crimes committed during mutiny, including murder. Supreme Court 18 July lifted ban on pro-opposition newspaper, imposed by govt June.
Police 2 July killed top Maoist leader “Azad” in Andhra Pradesh; Maoists 8 July killed 7, including 5 police, in string of attacks in eastern states. Govt 14 July set up “unified command” to coordinate, strengthen efforts against Maoists. More than 800 killed in Maoist violence during 2010, close to 2009 total. 5 police killed in 30 July Assam blast; separatist ULFA militant group claimed responsibility.
Huge anti-India protests continued throughout month across Valley, with at least 9 demonstrators killed in clashes with police in July. Indian govt 7 July deployed troops in Srinagar and Baramulla to quell protests, first Kashmir army patrols since 1990. India-imposed curfews continued off and on during month. 1 Indian army colonel, 1 senior Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militant group commander killed in 14 July gun battles. Pakistan, India FMs 15 July in first meeting since 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks; little progress. Pakistan FM Qureshi accused India of “selectively” focusing on terrorism, refuted India Home Secretary G.K. Pillai’s 14 July accusation that ISI behind Mumbai attack.
Political crisis continued as Constituent Assembly 23 July for 2nd time failed to pick new PM following ex-PM Madhav Nepal’s late June resignation: neither Maoist leader Prachanda nor NC party candidate Ram Chandra Paudel won required majority of votes. UML and alliance of 4 Tarai-based parties abstained, called for consensus govt; new vote scheduled for 2 Aug.
102 killed in 9 July suicide attack on Mohmand Agency governor’s office; at least 42 killed in 1 July suicide attack on Lahore Sufi shrine; Taliban suspected. PM Gilani 23 July extended tenure of army chief General Kayani by full 3-year term. Balochistan National Party secretary general killed by gunmen 14 July in Quetta; no claim of responsibility. Militant attacks continued in Orakzai Agency during month despite army’s June declaration of victory.
Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa led protests from 6 July against UN advisory panel on possible human rights abuses during civil war, announced June, outside Colombo UN compound; UNSG Ban 8 July closed UNDP regional office, recalled top envoy for consultation over govt’s failure to prevent protesters from disrupting UN work; U.S., EU 9 July condemned protests. EU 5 July confirmed withdrawal of GSP+ trade concession for Sri Lanka from 15 Aug after govt ignored EU’s conditions, including improving human rights and withdrawing war-time emergency laws. Police 13 July launched new case against ex-army chief and current MP Sarath Fonseka over employing army deserters during 2009 presidential campaign; Fonseka still in military custody, facing 2 courts martial.
Demonstrations demanding referendum on Papuan independence continued: some 2,500 in largely peaceful 8 July protest across province; protesters occupied provincial parliament in Jayapura. Papua activist Yusak Pakage, jailed for 2004 raising of Papuan independence flag, Morning Star, released from prison 8 July. National anti-graft NGO activist severely beaten in Jakarta 8 July amidst heightened media focus on police corruption; police denied responsibility, President Yudhoyono called for full investigation. Yudhoyono 16 July created by decree new National Body for Handling Terrorism reporting directly to him. 5 arrested late June in Klaten district (Java), including Jemaah Islamiyah associate Abdullah Sonata, officially named terrorist suspects by police 1 July. U.S. 23 July lifted 12-year ban on cooperation with army (TNI) special forces unit Kopassus, originally imposed due to alleged human rights abuses.
National Democratic Front (NDF), splinter group from officially disbanded opposition NLD, 9 July received govt permission to form new party; NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi criticised NDF’s decision to take part in upcoming election, including use of NLD straw hat symbol for campaigning. ASEAN FMs 20 July applied strong pressure on Myanmar to hold “free, fair and inclusive” elections. Influential govt-controlled social organisation USDA disbanded 6 July, transferred assets to army’s political party USDP; rights groups highly critical. U.S. Senate 22 July voted to extend by 1 year ban on imports from Myanmar. Win Htein, former aide to Suu Kyi, released from prison 15 July after completing 14-year sentence. India, Myanmar signed new security pact 27 July following 4-day official visit to India of junta leader Than Shwe.
President Ninoy Aquino 15 July announced plans to revive dialogue with MILF, appointed prominent law professor as head of govt peace panel; MILF welcomed appointment, but said peace dependent on govt policies. Harassment, intimidation of witnesses to Nov 2009 Maguindanao massacre continued: gunmen 25 July killed 1 aide to prominent witness. 1 local Bayan Muna party official gunned down 5 July. Abu Sayyaf militants 8 July killed 3 on Sulu. Military-New People’s Army clashes continued: 7 soldiers killed in 9 July gun battle in north.
FM da Costa downplayed concern over “aggressive” Indonesia army patrols in disputed Natuka area (Oecusse enclave) from May. Timor-Leste National Police commander announced major rotation of senior officers in further step towards full implementation of promotions law. Australia PM Gillard 6 July announced plans to create regional processing centre for refugees in Timor-Leste; President Ramos-Horta expressed cautious support, but parliament 12 July unanimously rejected plan in non-binding resolution.
Govt 6 July lifted state of emergency in 5 provinces, but rights groups criticised its extension for 3 months in 19 others and Bangkok; state of emergency lifted by end-month in 9 further provinces. 1 killed, 10 injured 25 July in Bangkok bomb blast on day of by-election, no claim of responsibility; poll saw ruling Democrat Party candidate narrowly beat Puea Thai party candidate Kokaew Pikulthong, still detained for role in March-May “red shirt” protests; opposition claimed they were disadvantaged under state of emergency. Attorney-General’s Office 13 July recommended dissolving Democrat Party over illegal donations received 2005; Constitutional Court to hold 1st hearing on case 9 Aug. New Politics, political party of People’s Alliance for Democracy, 3 July elected “yellow shirt” head Somsak Kosaisuk as leader. In South, 8 killed, including 6 security officials, in 1-2 July bombings in Yala, Narathiwat provinces; 3 civilians killed in 18 July Narathiwat attack.
Republika Srpska (RS) PM Dodik 22 July said ICJ’s ruling that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law will serve as “guidance” for RS status aspirations. On day after 11 July commemoration of 15th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, Dodik said Srebrenica not genocide, criticised foreign officials who attended ceremony.
ICJ 22 July ruled international law contained no applicable prohibition on declarations of independence, hence Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia not illegal. Kosovo’s parliament 23 July adopted declaration hailing ICJ’s opinion, welcomed EU’s offer for talks with Serbia, but only if on technical issues. European Parliament 8 July adopted resolution calling on all EU member states to recognise Kosovo’s independence. In ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo Serb lawmaker shot and wounded 5 July; explosion killed 1, injured 11 during 2 July protest by Serbs against opening of Kosovo govt office in town.
Govt 23 July said ICJ’s 22 July decision that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law failed to answer question whether unilaterally proclaimed secession is legal (see Kosovo); asserted commitment to preserving country’s territorial integrity, defend position at UN General Assembly (UNGA). 28 July submitted draft resolution to UNGA saying unilateral secession not acceptable means for solving territorial disputes, calling for resumption of talks for mutually agreed solution; followed 26 July motion by Parliament backing govt Kosovo policy. President Tadic attended 11 July ceremony in Bosnia commemorating Srebrenica massacre, vowed to bring former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic to justice.
Opposition leaders, including ex-President Ter-Petrossian, stated govt acceptance of Madrid principles for Nagorno-Karabakh settlement likely to result in domestic backlash, including possible regime change. 2 opposition youth activists went on trial 14 July on charges of hooliganism and resistance to police during 31 May demonstration; opposition Armenian National Congress said charges politically motivated. EU High Rep Ashton in Yerevan 19 July announced start of talks on association agreement to lead potentially to visa-free travel and free-trade regime.
Reports emerged mid-month Turkey will open border with Armenia for NATO disaster relief exercise in Sept; but following failure of Armenia-Azerbaijan talks on Nagorno-Karabakh (N-K) settlement on sidelines of OSCE ministerial meeting, Turkish FM Davutoğlu 17 July ruled out possibility for time being. Armenian President Sarkisian 21 July said Turkey’s turn to take next step to normalise ties. In 4 July visits to Yerevan and Baku U.S. Sec State Clinton pressed for resolution of stalled N-K peace process, called on Turkey to move forward with normalisation of ties with Armenia.
Opposition rally held 31 July despite ban on protests in Baku city center; some 100 reportedly arrested. Govt 15 July filed appeal against Apr ruling by European Court of Human Rights for immediate release and payment of damages to journalist Eynulla Fatullayev serving 8+ year sentence for libel, instigation of terrorism, tax evasion; claimed Court overstepped jurisdiction. Fatullayev 6 July sentenced to additional 2.5 years for drug possession while in prison. EU High Rep Ashton in Baku 16 July announced start of talks on association agreement.
U.S. Sec State Clinton 5 July, French FM Kouchner 15 July in Tbilisi voiced strong support for country’s territorial integrity. President Saakashvili 7 July held meetings with Ukrainian President Yanukovych, ex-President Yushchenko in Kyiv; 16 July met Belarusian President Lukashenka, using diplomatic gestures to express appreciation for their non-recognition of Abkhazia, South Ossetia (SO). Several incidents of brief detention of ethnic Georgians for alleged illegal crossing of administrative borders with Abkhazia, SO over month. Abkhaz de facto authorities 23 July reversed June decision to withdraw from international talks in Geneva over failure to sign agreement with Georgia on non-resumption of hostilities. Abkhaz leader Bagapsh mid-month expressed openness towards EU policy of “engagement but non-recognition”. EU High Rep Ashton in Tbilisi 15 July announced start of talks on association agreement to lead possibly to visa-free travel and free-trade regime. EU 26 July extended mandate of monitoring mission in country until Sept 2011. Amid strong resistance by opposition parties, constitutional commission established by President Saakashvili 21 July submitted for parliamentary approval new draft constitution to create parliamentary republic, opening way for Saakashvili to run for PM post and retain leadership of country after end of second and last term as president.
Armenian, Azerbaijani FMs held talks on sidelines of OSCE ministerial meeting in Almaty 16-17 July with no progress. Resulted in statement by Minsk Group co-chair representatives, French FM Kouchner, Russian FM Lavrov, U.S. Deputy Sec State Steinberg, saying efforts by 2 parties insufficient to overcome differences, and reiterating Madrid principles as basis for settlement: return of occupied territories surrounding N-K, interim self-governance status for N-K and corridor linking it to Armenia, final status to be determined by legally-binding expression of will, international security guarantees. Armenia reported Russian President Medvedev had proposed “new version” of principles at 17 June St. Petersburg talks; 21 July expressed support for new framework. Azerbaijan 22 July said proposal unacceptable, violates Minsk Group format. U.S. Sec State Clinton in Azerbaijan and Armenia 4 July to revitalise stalled talks on N-K settlement.
Russian PM Putin 6 July outlined elements of strategy for boosting economic development in restive republics to fight insurgency, including creation of 400,000 new jobs, building resort infrastructure. Continuing surge of violence in Kabardino-Balkaria attributed to new insurgent commander Asker Djappuyev aka Amir Abdullakh: high-profile militant raid on hydropower plant in Baksan 21 July left 2 dead, several injured, destroyed 2 generators; 3 policemen killed in separate incidents 5-6 July in Baksan, additional 200 police deployed to town. Series of attacks on mobile phone towers early month; several other explosions throughout republic. In Dagestan: 6 women identified as potential suicide bombers, 2 men alleged to be their handlers arrested 12 July in Makhachkala. Multiple deadly incidents over month, including killing of at least 3 policemen and head of police department, 7 soldiers, district court judge, village head of administration; several explosions on railroads. Dagestan President Magomedov late month threatened harsh reprisals against militants, turning away from previous focus on dialogue with insurgency.
President Kadyrov 7 July announced militants not responsible for “grave crimes” will be allowed to return to civilian life, provided employment if they denounce violence. Several soldiers reported killed in counterinsurgency operations 5 July, 23 July.
Airing of negative documentaries about President Lukashenka on Gazprom-owned Russian NTV and subsequent broadcast of interview with Georgian President Saakashvili on Belarus state TV signaled deepening fall-out between Moscow and Minsk. Still, Lukashenkа 5 July signed documents for joining customs union announced early month between Russia and Kazakhstan.
Following controversial June decree by acting President Ghimpu demanding Moscow withdraw troops from Transdniestria and designating 28 June as national “Day of Soviet Occupation”, Russia early month halted imports of Moldovan wine citing poor quality.
Authorities banned attempted protests throughout country, detained 8 activists in Kyiv 26 July during visit by Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill 20-28 July. Bomb in Orthodox Church under Russian patriarchate in Zaporijia 28 July injured 9. Parliament 1 July passed law establishing country’s non-aligned status, effectively barring it from joining NATO. U.S. Sec State Clinton in Kyiv 2 July stressed NATO’s door remained open, said Ukraine can pursue close relations with both Russia and West.
Trial started 15 July for 22 members of Udalbiltza Kursaal, assembly of banned pro-independence party Batasuna, accused of ETA membership and fundraising. Jailed ETA member Txapote sentenced to further 8 years for providing explosives to ETA cell.
On 20 July’s 36th anniversary of Turkish army’s intervention, Greek Cypriot leaders criticised “occupation of Cyprus”, expressed commitment to reunification; Turkish Cypriot leader Eroglu called for agreement by end of 2010. Turkish deputy PM Cicek 20 July warned if forced to choose between EU and Turkish Cypriots, Turkey will choose latter; that if no settlement by end-year, “each side will go its own way”. Eroglu and Greek Cypriot President Christofias met 6 times over month to discuss property issue; UNSG Special Adviser in Cyprus Downer 8 July said talks going “fine”. Media confirmed UNSG report on Cyprus reunification talks to come Nov.
Over 80 officers injured as police came under attack during 4 nights of rioting in Belfast 12-15 July; 3 police officers shot 12 July; police deployed water cannons, rubber bullets; several arrests made. Disturbances came during height of marching season, traditional flashpoint for sectarian violence. 6 police officers injured 3 July in rioting by about 100 people in West Belfast. Latest in series of bombs targeting police stations exploded 21 July in West Belfast, no casualties; bomb believed to be targeting police exploded 11 July in County Armagh, no casualties.
New waves of attacks by PKK saw more than 20 members of security forces killed in month; army’s bombing of PKK bases in northern Iraq continued. Militants bombed pipelines carrying natural gas from Iraq 3 July and Iran 20 July, temporarily suspending supply. PKK leader Murat Karayılan 21 July said group would disarm if govt agreed to UN-monitored ceasefire and certain conditions, threatened attacks on major cities; govt refused to comment. More than 5,000 protestors clashed with police 11 July in southeast city of Diyarbakir during pro-PKK rally; at least 10 arrested. Clashes between Turks and Kurds 25 July in Inegol province. 4 police officers killed 26 July by suspected PKK gunmen leading to further ethnic clashes 27 July in southeastern Hatay province. Istanbul court 19 July indicted 196 people including 30 retired or serving military officers for conspiring to overthrow govt in 2003. Constitutional Court 7 July rejected demands by main opposition Republican People’s Party to annul package of constitutional amendments, approved 12 Sept referendum, asked for revisions to articles giving more authority to President over Constitutional Court appointment processes. FM Davutoğlu 6 July said Israel’s internal investigation of Gaza flotilla raid insufficient, Turkey expects Israel to apologise or accept international investigation. Israel FM Lieberman reiterated Israel has no intention of apologising.
At OSCE ministerial meeting 16-17 July near Almaty, govt secured commitment to hold OSCE summit in Astana by end of year. Customs union with Russia and Belarus launched early month. Court 16 July sentenced opposition politician Aidos Sadykov to 2 years for hooliganism and resistance to law enforcement authorities; supporters claim charges politically motivated.
Following 16-17 July ministerial meeting on international measures in aftermath of June violence, OSCE leaders 22 July formally announced will deploy 52-member unarmed police advisory group to south for 4 months. Osh Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov and Osh city council denied need for mission, while over 2,000 in south and Bishkek protested deployment, despite govt’s 21 July admission of its inability to protect citizens, and repeated calls for international assistance. Govt mid-month announced will form national commission to investigate violence in south; at OSCE ministerial meeting agreed to international inquiry headed by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly special envoy Kiljunen. UNHCHR 20 July said Kyrgyz security forces responsible for repeated rights violations against ethnic Uzbeks, including torture, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment. UNHCR 27 July warned some 75,000 internally displaced at risk, including detention, harassment by authorities. Akhmat Bakiyev, brother of ousted president, detained in Jalal-Abad 21 July, reportedly confessed to involvement in riots. Roza Otunbayeva sworn in as caretaker president 3 July until 2011; appointed new cabinet after resignations of leading ministers to campaign for fall elections. International donors conference in Bishkek 28 July pledged $1.1bn reconstruction aid amid govt warnings of economic collapse, large budget deficit.
Security officials 24 July announced arrest of 6 followers of rebel Mahmud Khudoyberdiyev this year; leader and supporters sought for role in 1998 armed incursion in Sogd region. Interior Ministry late month announced arrest of alleged Uzbek al-Qaeda operative in first case charging Central Asian citizen with al-Qaeda membership. Authorities tightened security in Dushanbe after Supreme Court 7 July handed down prison sentences of up to 30 years to 49 associates, including 2 sons, of late senior govt minister Mirzo Ziyoev for formation and participation in armed groups. 2 alleged members of Islamic Jihad Union detained early month, extradited to Kyrgyzstan. 10 alleged Hizb-ut-Tahrir activists sentenced to 3-15 years in northern city of Khujand 30 July.
President Berdymukhammedov mid-month proposed founding of privately-owned media to deal with issues of entrepreneurship, industrialisation; reiterated openness to creation of new parties through “thoughtful approach”.
Rights groups late month accused govt of obstructing entrance by asylum seekers fleeing Kyrgyzstan. 9 members of Nurchilar religious movement reportedly went on trial in Tashkent 17 June for extremist religious activity.
Congress 18 July passed new autonomy law, final key piece of legislation necessary for full implementation of new Feb 2010 constitution; opposition criticised law for not recognising 2009 autonomy statutes of eastern departments. Influential indigenous group Cidob 20 July ended protests against law after reaching compromise with govt over land rights, control of natural resources. Santa Cruz governor Rubén Costas (opposition) 6 July accused VP García Linera of receiving money from narcotraffickers; García Linera denied.
Relations with neighbours deteriorated further (see Ecuador and Venezuela). At least 31 killed in heavy army-FARC clashes during month as military stepped up efforts to capture rebel commander Alfonso Cano before end of President Uribe’s term 7 Aug. Cano 30 July said FARC open to talks with new govt of President-elect Juan Manuel Santos; VP-elect Garzon reiterated any dialogue conditional on rebels agreeing to ceasefire. Ex-presidential candidate and FARC captive Ingrid Betancourt heavily criticised over suing state for US$6.8mn for damages suffered during captivity; Betancourt withdrew claim 19 July. New Congress sworn in 20 July; more than 80% of seats in both houses part of pro-govt coalition.
Relationship with Colombia further strained after judge reopened case against Colombian army commander General Freddy Padilla over his involvement in March 2008 airstrike on FARC camp inside Ecuador. Similar arrest warrant against Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos still stands. President Correa facing mounting opposition in Congress, unable to pass key proposals; Fabricio Correa, brother of president, 15 July launched own presidential campaign, accused president of creating “Chávez-style” govt.
President Chávez 22 July broke diplomatic relations with Colombia after Bogotá 15 July claimed proof of FARC, ELN camps in Venezuela; govt denied accusations it “tolerated” rebel presence. Colombia 22 July presented evidence to OAS of alleged 1,500 FARC fighters in 87 camps across border; Chávez said evidence could be fabricated and charged that Colombian President Uribe could be trying to provoke war, but called on FARC to renounce armed struggle. Little progress at 29 July emergency summit of Unasur FMs, but Chávez 31 July said “hopeful” of solution when Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos takes office 7 Aug. Chávez 21 July announced govt will take minority stake in anti-govt TV station Globovisión, appoint pro-govt board members. Human Rights Watch 21 July criticised continued govt harassment of human rights workers and new govt body that will monitor, restrict information from govt agencies, established by decree June.
Court 16 July sentenced 8 to up to 38 years in prison for involvement in May 2009 murder of lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg, who UN investigation found arranged his own death despite blaming President Colom in posthumously released video. At least 20 civilians killed in gang attacks on buses during month, including 2 in 12 July Guatemala City grenade attack; govt 21 July announced military to support police in protecting bus drivers.
6-month anniversary of Jan earthquake marked by mounting criticism of slow reconstruction process: UN said only 10% of US$2.5bn needed for reconstruction had been disbursed through 30 June; reconstruction commission IHRC yet to propose specific rebuilding projects. IMF 21 July cancelled Haiti’s US$268mn debt, approved new 3-year US$60mn loan. Some 72 parties registered for Nov presidential and legislative elections; several, including banned Fanmi Lavalas of ex-President Aristide, continued to condition their participation on President Préval resigning or restructuring Provisional Electoral Council; Préval rejected calls.
Police 28 July killed 1 of suspected Paraguayan People’s Army leaders, Severiano Martínez, in Chaco department; Martínez wanted for murder, kidnapping.
PA president Abbas 29 July refused to move to direct negotiations until Israel agrees “in principle” to a framework for negotiations including “third party” taking on a security role; decision endorsed 29 July by Arab League. In largest attack since 2008/09 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Israel 30 July hit 5 targets in Gaza killing Hamas senior military commander Issa Batran, injuring 11; strike in response to 30 July rocket attack on Ashkelon. Israel 5 July published “blacklist” of goods not allowed into Gaza, mainly weapons and dual-use materials; UN Special Coordinator Serry welcomed measure as “important steps in the right direction”. Israeli military investigation into 30 May deadly assault on Gaza-bound aid flotilla concluded 12 July there were “no failures, but mistakes were made”; UNHRC 24 July appointed 3-member independent flotilla inquiry panel, report due Sept. New Israeli report submitted to UN 19 July on Operation Cast Lead said IDF is “taking steps” to reduce civilian casualties, will restrict use of white phosphorous in future. Israel 13 July razed inhabited Palestinian home in East Jerusalem, ending unofficial 8 month demolition freeze. IDF 22 July killed Palestinian man entering Jewish settlement in central West Bank; 1 Islamic Jihad militant killed, 7 people injured 21 July by IDF in Gaza border zone; 1 woman killed, 5 injured 13 July by IDF shell in Gaza.
Domestic political tensions increased, as unity govt divided over reports of forthcoming indictments by Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigating assassination of former PM Rafiq Hariri. Hizbollah chief Nasrallah 16 July criticised STL as “Israeli project”, drawing criticism from parties within pro-Western March 14 Alliance; 22 July said had been told by PM Hariri that Hizbollah members would be indicted. President Sleiman, PM Hariri held talks with political leaders late month to ease tensions. In Beirut visit Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, Syrian President Assad 30 July met President Sleiman, PM Hariri and other leaders in attempt to reduce tensions; followed by visit of Sheikh Hamad, Emir of Qatar. Attacks on UNIFIL troops by southern villagers 29 June, 3 July, 4 July, deplored by UNSC 9 July; President and PM both expressed commitment to UNSC Resolution 1701. UN Special Coordinator Williams 14 July said parties must do more to meet commitments under 1701, echoing recent report by SG Ban; said trouble between UNIFIL and local population resolved following reconciliation efforts. Defence Minister Murr 8 July announced 3,000-5,000 Lebanese troops to be deployed to S Lebanon; reports of numbers revised downwards later in month. Israel 7 July released aerial images purportedly showing Hizbollah buildup in S Lebanon towns and villages; Israeli Defence Minister Barak 23 July said Lebanese state, not only Hizbollah, is legitimate target in future war. 2 telecom sector employees arrested for suspected espionage; followed June arrest of other worker, latter charged 13 July.
President Assad, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah 29 July held talks in Damascus before travelling to Beirut next day to ease tensions in Lebanon (see Lebanon). PM Otri and Lebanese PM Hariri signed economic agreements 18 July; Otri said bilateral cooperation must extend to security. No progress on demarcation of common borders. Elderly regime critic Haitham Maleh jailed 4 July for 3 years for “weakening national sentiment”.
U.S. President Obama 1 July signed new sanctions on Iran, targeting financial and energy sectors; criticised by China 6 July. Russian President Medvedev 12 July said Iran acquiring ability to build nuclear bomb; FM Mottaki rejected claim. Atomic Energy Organization 7 July announced 1st nuclear power plant to open by late Sept. Parliament passed bills 18 July requiring govt to continue uranium enrichment to 20%, 19 July authorising govt to retaliate against countries inspecting Iranian cargo transporters under new UN sanctions. Following Istanbul talks with Turkish, Brazilian counterparts FM Mottaki 25 July announced readiness to reopen negotiations on nuclear program with P5+1 powers in Sept. EU 26 July imposed further sanctions, criticised by Russia 27 July, China 30 July. President Ahmadinejad 27 July said Iran will resume negotiations on nuclear program, but with conditions. Turkish FM Davutoğlu 28 July reported Iran will stop 20% uranium enrichment if fuel swap deal agreed; U.S. same day expressed readiness to follow up on fuel swap, resume P5+1 talks. Nuclear chief Salehi 30 July said ready for immediate talks with Vienna group on fuel swap deal. At least 27 killed in twin suicide bombs at Shi’ite mosque in Sistan-Baluchestan province; claimed by Sunni Jundallah group 16 July in retaliation for June execution of Abdulmalik Rigi. Police detained 40 following bombings, 16 July killed 6 in several incidents in province. Iran blamed West and Israel for attacks. Merchants in Tehran on strike from 6 July following reports of planned tax increase; 1 trader reportedly killed 7 July during police and militia raid on main bazaar.
Continued stalemate in negotiations to form coalition govt. In 3-5 July visit U.S. VP Biden met PM Maliki, former PM Allawi and President Talabani; urged end to deadlock. Scheduled parliamentary sessions delayed 12 July, postponed indefinitely 27 July. In Damascus visit Shi’ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr 19 July met Iraqiya leader Allawi to discuss formation of coalition govt. Senior Sunni cleric Saadi killed in Anbar province 2 July. Dozens killed, hundreds wounded 6-8 July in Baghdad bombings, at least 20 dead in 26 July attacks near Kerbala, all targeting Shi’ite pilgrims. At least 43 killed 18 July in 2 bombings targeting Awakening Council members in southwest Baghdad and western Iraq, claimed by al-Qaeda 23 July. Other attacks over month included 15 killed in car bomb in Diyala province 21 July; at least 4 killed in attack on Al-Arabiya TV station 26 July; reportedly over 20 killed in attacks across country targeting security officials 29 July. U.S. military 15 July transferred last U.S.-run detention centre to Iraqi authorities; 4 al-Qaeda linked prisoners escaped 20 July. Oil minister Shahristani 13 July criticised Kurdish region for allowing export of oil to Iran without central govt approval. Continued violence between PKK, Turkish military inside Iraq (see Turkey); govt 2 July rejected Turkish call to intervene in PKK conflict.
In attempt at finding political solution to conflict with Northern rebels, President Saleh 29 July invited 3 senior Houthi leaders to participate in national dialogue. Followed accord by ruling party General People’s Congress and opposition coalition signed 17 July, agreeing to start dialogue on political reform, including formation of 200-member joint committee. President Saleh called agreement “positive step towards political détente”. Govt spokesman announced 30 July ceasefire with Houthi rebels remains intact despite most serious fighting since Feb, that left more than 70 killed in northern Amran 15-23 July. Rebels 26 July captured army base, over 100 soldiers in fighting that killed at least 10 people in increasingly fragile North. Police shot dead 2 protesters in Aden 7 July during “Day of Rage” marking anniversary of 1994 separatist rebellion. 6 soldiers killed 25 July by al-Qaeda gunmen in southern Shabwa province; followed 22 July ambush killing 5 members of security forces in same region. Al-Qaeda gunmen 14 July assaulted South Yemen security offices in 2 coordinated attacks killing at least 4; second al-Qaeda attack on security facilities in less than a month. 2 security officers killed, 3 injured in 5 July shootout with suspected al-Qaeda militants in southern town of Mukalla. Police 3 July arrested 4 militants over 1 July drive-by killing of senior intelligence official. Appeals court 11 July upheld death sentences against 4 al-Qaeda militants for 2008 assault on U.S. embassy and killing of 2 Belgian tourists.
7 members of security forces killed in bombings 4, 14 July. 3 militants killed 6 July by security forces in southern M’sila region; 8 more arrested as part of security sweep of area. Major-General Abdelghani Hamel sworn in as new national security (DGSN) chief 7 July, 5 months after assassination of predecessor.
Gun battles between Bedouin and security forces near Egypt-Israel border end of June; unrest returned 27 July with Bedouin hijack of bus in Sinai peninsula. Trial of 2 police officers began 27 July for “unlawful arrest, torture and excessive use of force” against Khaled Said, whose 6 June death sparked protests in Cairo and Alexandria; U.S. attorney general Holder called for accountability in case. Libyan-chartered ship carrying aid to Gaza docked in Egypt 14 July after altering course following warnings from Israeli navy not to challenge blockade; aid transported to Gaza via Rafah crossing. President Mubarak 18 July met separately in Cairo with PA President Abbas, Israel PM Netanyahu and U.S. Mid East Envoy Mitchell in effort to move peace process towards direct talks.
France and Mauritania conducted joint military operation in northern Mali 22 July to rescue French man kidnapped 22 Apr by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), killed 6 militants; hostage executed 24 July in response (see Mali). Trial started 20 July of 4 members of AQIM-linked group accused of kidnapping 3 Spanish aid workers Nov 2009; 2 still being held by group in northern Mali. New anti-terrorism laws adopted 8 July to give security forces greater power against AQIM.
Appellate court 16 July upheld life sentence for al-Qaeda associate Abdelkader Belliraj, convicted July 2009 along with 35 other defendants for plotting terror attacks in Morocco, robberies in Europe and other crimes. King Mohammed VI 5 July called for improved relations with Algeria in letter to Algerian President Bouteflika, reiterated desire to work for “reconciliation and solidarity between the two countries.