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
Scores were killed in Syria as security forces backed by tanks launched an assault on the restive central city of Hama and other towns and cities, at the end of a month which saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets as daily anti-regime protests continued to spread. Syrian rights groups reported that more than 1,600 people have been killed and at least 12,000 arrested since the unrest began in March.
In Yemen violence escalated in Arhab, a mountainous area northeast of the capital Sanaa, where at least 40 were killed at the end of the month in clashes between government forces and armed tribesmen loyal to the opposition. Sanaa is divided roughly between troops of general Ali Mohsen in the northwest, tribesmen loyal to the al-Ahmars in parts of the north, and forces loyal to Saleh in the southeast and southwest. Both pro-Saleh and anti-Saleh forces are preparing positions in the capital for a potential confrontation.
The UN declared a state of famine in Somalia's Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions, both controlled by Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, following the worst drought in half a century and protracted instability. Tens of thousands have fled the worst hit parts of the South, while aid agencies are hampered by restrictions imposed on operating in Al-Shabaab-controlled areas. Al-Shabaab dismissed the scale of famine and the UN's announcement as "sheer propaganda", but its position on aid deliveries appears confused.
There were hopes for political reconciliation in Burundi, as opposition parties welcomed President Pierre Nkurunziza's 30 June Independence Day speech inviting opposition leaders to return from exile and resume talks with the government. However, the month also saw an upsurge in violence. Attacks by armed groups against the police and ruling CNDD-FDD party officials intensified, mainly in former rebel National Liberation Forces (FNL) strongholds, but also in the capital and the south of the country.
In Malawi security forces used live ammunition to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters from 20-21 July, leaving at least eighteen people dead. Fears have mounted over the possibility of further repression as President Mutharika, having initially responded with calls for calm and peaceful dialogue, later accused opposition leaders of treason and blamed them for the violence.
At least one presidential guard was killed on 19 July during two separate attacks on the home of Guinea's President Alpha Condé. Security forces arrested 38 people in connection with the attacks, including 25 military personnel. Most of those arrested have links with former junta leader Sekouba Konaté.
Ethnic violence flared in Pakistan's second city and commercial hub Karachi, leaving more than 200 people dead. July was the deadliest month in decades for clashes between supporters of the mainly Pashtun Awami National Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, representing the Urdu-speaking majority. The government deployed thousands of paramilitary troops to regain control of the city and launched a "peace campaign" towards the end of the month, but rights groups claimed it was not doing enough to prevent further violence.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban stepped up their assassination campaign against government officials and key allies of President Hamid Karzai. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president's half-brother and influential governor of volatile Kandahar province, was killed by his own bodyguard on 12 July, while the mayor of Kandahar city and a top adviser to the president died in separate suicide attacks later in the month. Analysts warned the killings could leave a potentially dangerous power vacuum in the south. The assassinations came as the UN reported that the civilian war-related death toll in Afghanistan for 2011 has been the highest at any point since the 2001 invasion.
Tensions soared in Kosovo late month after Kosovo special police attempted to take control of two customs posts in the north to enforce a new ban on imports from Serbia, triggering a violent response from Kosovo Serbs. A police officer was shot dead during clashes on 26 July, and the next day some 200 Serbs attacked and set fire to a border security post and fired at NATO KFOR forces. KFOR sent reinforcements to take control of the two posts.
Amid increasing insecurity, hopes for a way forward following President Nkurunziza’s 30 June speech calling for dialogue with opposition; opposition parties welcomed move, but condition participation on release of political prisoners. At least 15 reported killed in intensified series of shootings, grenade attacks by armed groups: 9 killed 19 July in Cibitoke; other incidents reported in Ruyigi, Bujumbura rural, Makamba. Armed men 4 July attacked police posts in Bujumbura, in first such attack in capital, claimed by previously unknown group FRONABU-Tabara. Armed men 19 July attacked President Nkurunziza’s farm in SE Musongati. For first time, some attackers openly claimed allegiance to FNL rebel group. Isidore Rufyikiri, chairman of the Burundi Lawyers Association, arrested 27 July for “contempt of court” following his criticism of judge presiding over trial of lawyer Suzanne Bukuru.
Governing CPDM 18 July said President Biya will run in Oct presidential election, despite opposition claims he is term-limited by 1996 constitution; Biya yet to announce candidature. Parliament 10 July passed law allowing citizens living abroad to vote, key opposition demand. Biya 7 July appointed 6 new members of electoral commission; opposition continued to question credibility, transparency of process.
Following June ceasefire between govt and core of rebel Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), faction leader Mahamat Sallé also signed peace deal 17 July. Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) rebels sacked mobile phone installation in NE Sam Ouandja, prevented planes landing 18 July in protest at rival CPJP blocking road south. Suspected LRA fighters 16 July shot dead merchant near Guerekindo village.
Senegal 10 July reversed 8 July decision to extradite former Chadian president Hissène Habré, accused of crimes against humanity during 1982-90 rule, following international pressure over risk of torture, summary execution. Chad 22 July requested Habré instead be extradited to Belgium, where he has also been charged. AU 23 July said extradition to Belgium not best option.
Ahead of Nov presidential election, electoral commission mid-month completed voter registration, claimed 32mn voters registered. Opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) claimed irregularities in process including registration of minors; 1 killed, several injured 4 July as security forces dispersed “unlawful” Kinshasa protest by UDPS supporters. Electoral law remains unfinalised, threatening to delay planned 4 Aug start of candidate registration. Main parliamentary opposition party Movement for the Liberation of Congo 22 July announced ICC indictee Jean-Pierre Bemba will be its candidate in presidential election. 2 UN Joint Human Rights Office fact-finding reports on 2010 N Kivu attacks released, implicating FARDC in mass rapes, attacks on civilians; said rapes may constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes. U.S., EU called on govt to end impunity in East. FARDC Col. and former Mai Mai member Niragire Kifaru and 150 men 7 July surrendered to military authorities, following June accusations of mass rapes in S Kivu. Following June surge in LRA activity, attacks continued in Haut-Uélé, Bas-Uélé.
At least 21 injured 12 July in grenade attack in SW town Kamembe, near border with DR Congo; officials allege attack orchestrated by exiled former intelligence chief Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa. President Kagame 15 July reshuffled military, intelligence leadership. 2 killed, around 25 injured 14-15 July during forced repatriation of 1,700 Rwandan refugees from Uganda.
Govt 5 July reportedly renewed pledge to send peacekeepers to Somalia. Japan 7 July opened naval base near Djibouti City to help fight piracy. Govt appealed for $21mn aid to address severe drought.
Report by UN Monitoring Group 28 July accused Eritrea of organising Jan bomb plot in Addis Ababa against AU summit, Sheraton hotel and Merkato market in partnership with Ethiopia’s Oromo Liberation Front (OLF); also accused Eritrea of funding individuals with links to al-Shabaab, said actions threaten regional security and peace; govt rejected findings as “total fabrication”. IGAD 4 July urged AU, UN to impose sanctions against mining sector over its alleged financial support for al-Shabaab extremists. Govt late July requested reactivation of IGAD membership. Lack of humanitarian access increased fears regional drought may impact food security in country.
UN report 28 July accused Eritrea, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) of direct involvement in Jan bomb plot against AU summit in Addis Ababa (see Eritrea). Deployment of 4,200-strong Ethiopian peacekeeping force began in Sudan’s Abyei region 13 July. Govt 3 July reported soldiers had killed 15 ONLF fighters in Ogaden region; 2 Swedish journalists accompanying rebels wounded, detained. 2 local journalists continue to be held following arrest late June, in connection with alleged Eritrean plan for sabotaging telecoms, power. Opposition Medrek 20 July claimed 2 party officials beaten, detained by authorities. Drought lead govt 11 July to request $398mn aid for 4.6mn people needing emergency assistance.
Govt reported growing influx of refugees fleeing drought and conflict in Somalia unmanageable, asked AU to relocate refugees to other countries. Rioting in Dadaab refugee camp 1 July, where over 1,000 Somali refugees arriving daily, left 2 dead. Govt 14 July agreed to open Ifo II camp near Dadaab to relieve overcrowding in other camps. 1 policeman killed 27 July by bomb in Mandera near Somali border, believed to have been detonated remotely from Somalia. In Nairobi police 7 July used tear gas to disperse crowds protesting rising food, fuel prices. Authorities 4 July reported to ICC they had begun interrogations of “Ocampo 6”, group of prominent politicians accused of playing lead role in 2008 post-election violence. 27 July UN report claimed cabinet minister and nominated MP, among others, funding activities of al-Shabaab.
UN 20 July declared famine in al-Shabaab-controlled regions of Bakool and Lower Shabelle, 25 July began food deliveries to Mogadishu; called for $300mn aid over 2 months. Tens of thousands fleeing worst-hit parts of South. Splits apparent within al-Shabaab over ban on aid; after initially lifting ban on foreign aid agencies, al-Shabaab 21 July maintained ban for groups “involved in political activities”, dismissed scale of famine. Continued clashes in Mogadishu amid AMISOM advances: al-Shabaab commander Ahmed Godane admitted group losing ground; TFG claims in final preparations for offensive against rebels in Lower Juba, Gedo regions. Uganda 1 July announced it would deploy 3,000 extra troops to AMISOM. Amid fears of increasing ties between al-Qaeda in Yemen and al-Shabaab, suspected U.S. drone strikes continued 6 July with attack on training camp in Lower Juba; U.S. 7 July admitted detaining senior al-Shabaab official in Gulf of Aden acting as al-Qaeda go-between; CIA reportedly using secret detention facility in Mogadishu. Parliament 11 July endorsed June Kampala Accord between TFG President Sheikh Sharif and Speaker Sharif Hassan. New cabinet finally approved 23 July after numerous rejections by president and speaker. In Puntland, authorities 24 July reached preliminary ceasefire with Islamist leader Mohammad Said Atom.
In Las Anod, Sool region, authorities 3 July detained up to 20 people including tribal elders following wave of attacks against officials. Female police officer gunned down 17 July by unknown assailants; tribal elders blamed authorities for insecurity.
South Sudan 9 July declared independence, amid swift international recognition of new state; UNGA 14 July admitted nation as member. Speaking alongside other international figures at celebrations in Juba, Sudan President Bashir highlighted commitment to resolve outstanding issues of Comprehensive Peace Agreement. New peacekeeping mission UNMISS launched as UNMIS draws down. Govt 6 July raised possibility of exporting oil through E Africa, bypassing Sudan. SPLM Sec Gen 25 July accused Sudan of “economic war” by introducing new currency early. Parliamentary opposition leader Onyoti Nyikwec 7 July accused security forces of beating, detaining opposition members. Prominent journalist Abuzar Al Amin sentenced 14 July to year in prison for “undermining the constitution”, after criticising govt. Unity State rebel leader Gatluak Gai killed 23 July, days after signing peace deal with SPLA; SPLA denied involvement, blamed Gai’s deputy. Militias allegedly allied to rebel leader Peter Gadet late June attacked Turalei, Warrap State; 11 killed.
Heavy bombardment of S Kordofan capital Kadugli by Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), continued fighting with SPLA-North forces, despite 28 June framework agreement between govt and SPLM-North. UN 12 July reported further 2,000 displaced from Delami town; leaked UNMIS report accuses SAF of possible war crimes and systematic targeting of Nubans, calls for independent investigation by ICC prosecutor; UN independent expert 25 July said “strong evidence” SAF committed atrocities. President Bashir 7 July rejected 28 June agreement with SPLM-North, ordered SAF to “purge” region. FM Ali Karti 19 July raised possibility of foreign peacekeepers in S Kordofan, subject to agreement with “local leaders”, but then denied statement. Parliament 13 July amended nationality law, stripping citizenship of 1mn southerners residing in North, 20 July approved amendments to popular consultation law for S Kordofan and Blue Nile States; SPLM-North MPs boycotted session, said law violates Comprehensive Peace Agreement. In Abyei, Ethiopian troops deployed for peacekeeping operation UNISFA. Govt and Darfur Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) 14 July signed peace agreement in Doha; Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) refused to sign. AU-UN mediator Ibrahim Gambari called on govt to lift state of emergency, engage with Sudan Liberation Movement factions. In Darfur, unidentified gunmen 30 June killed 2 Ethiopian UNAMID peacekeepers in El Geneina. UNAMID 28 July reported SAF bombing near Abu Hamara, 1 civilian killed. UN 29 July renewed UNAMID mandate by 1 year. Police 20-22 July broke up demonstrations over lack of water in Wad Madani, Khartoum.
Soaring inflation and currency depreciation sparked new anti-govt protests early July; traders 6 July shuttered businesses in Kampala and Masaka in SW. Kizza Besigye, leader of opposition DMC party, 25 July called for continued civil disobedience following several months of “walk to work” protests against Museveni regime. Govt 13 July dropped charges against Besigye for his role in protests. Besigye 5 July announced he will step down as DMC party leader when his term expires in 2014.
Following failure of June SADC call for unconditional return of ousted president Marc Ravalomanana, SADC mediator Joaquim Chissano continued to argue Ravalomanana’s return necessary for inclusive resolution to political crisis. AU Peace and Security Council meeting early July did not secure resolution on this or election roadmap, but inferred agreement would be reached shortly. De facto leader Rajoelina continuing with preparations for elections including voter registration process, despite concerns over partisan nature of Independent Electoral Commission. Reflecting frustration with international mediation efforts, civil society calling for intra-Malagasy dialogue. UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Food 22 July urged review of sanctions against Madagascar, warning country facing major humanitarian crisis.
Security forces used live ammunition to disperse thousands of anti-govt protestors 20-21 July, leaving at least 18 dead. Fears mount over possibility of further repression as President Mutharika, having initially responded with calls for calm and peaceful dialogue, 22 July accused opposition leaders of treason, blamed them for violence. U.S. froze $350mn grant to nation, UNHCHR called for investigation into crackdown. Critics point to increasing manifestations of Mutharika’s intolerance, introduction of repressive legislation including policing powers, media restrictions, restrictions on legal remedies.
Continued mixed messages on timing of election contributing to uncertainty, insecurity. Despite agreement among negotiating teams early July on new detail and timelines on election “roadmap”, including that elections should be held in third quarter of 2012, ZANU-PF politiburo mid July again called for elections in 2011. Critical issues still unresolved include security sector transformation, staffing of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, validation of final voter’s roll, election monitoring. ZANU-PF early month accused MDC-T of deliberately stalling constitution-making process (COPAC) to ensure elections are delayed to 2012. SADC monitors due to join Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) yet to be deployed. SADC’s Organ for Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation late June removed Zimbabwe from its agenda, claiming situation “normalised”; SADC Facilitator Jacob Zuma will now report directly to SADC heads of state. Arrests and harassment of senior MDC figures continued, including MDC-T Minister Jameson Timba and leadership of smaller MDC faction. Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba late June told state-controlled Herald newspaper Tsvangirai is a Western creation being used for regime change.
Officials 14 July announced 566 soldiers dismissed following recent mutinies; many to face criminal charges for rebellion, desertion, looting.
Further tentative progress toward reconciliation following post-election crisis. President Ouattara 20 July established commission of enquiry into post-election turmoil: will investigate violence, rights abuses. Ouattara 7 July named former rebel commander Gen Soumaila Bakayoko head of armed forces; several other senior security positions awarded to officials who served under former president Gbagbo. Head of Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front 12 July resigned, citing inability of party hardliners to accept defeat, form credible opposition. UN 1 July said it will open 8 new peacekeeping bases in west. UNOCI head 18 July said Gbagbo loyalists no longer pose threat to peace. West African leaders 17 July called on UN, ECOWAS to boost security along Liberian border amid continuing influx of mercenaries from CDI. Public prosecutor 1 July issued arrest warrants for several top Gbagbo aides, including head of youth militia, in relation to post-election violence; justice minister 11 July said 24 Gbagbo aides imprisoned in north. French PM Fillon 15 July pledged additional €3bn aid, enhanced security cooperation. UN 27 July renewed UNOCI mandate. Amnesty International 27 July reported hundreds of thousands of displaced unable to return home due to security fears.
At least 1 presidential guard killed 19 July during 2 separate attacks on home of President Alpha Condé in Conakry. Security forces 20-21 July arrested 38 people in connection with attacks, including 25 military personnel; most of those arrested have links with former junta leader Sékouba Konaté. Media unions reported govt ban on reporting on attacks, lifted after widespread domestic, international condemnation. Leading opposition politician reported missing since 19 July incident.
Increasing tensions as opposition rallied in Bissau; disputed number of supporters, estimated from 1,000 to 15,000, 19 July demanded resignation of PM Carlos Gomes Jr; followed rally 14 July. Opposition accuse Gomes of hindering probe into 2009 assassinations of ex-president Joao Bernardo Vieira and others. President Sanha 26 July met with opposition, civil society representatives. EU 18 July announced resumption of development cooperation following commitments to tackle corruption, organised crime, but set conditions for resumption of full support; follows several pledges of assistance by multilateral donors in June, and country’s regaining of voting rights at AU summit early July.
5 soldiers, including a major and lieutenant, arrested 22 July for allegedly plotting to assassinate President Issoufou 16 July.
Dozens killed, scores injured in Borno state capital Maiduguri in almost daily attacks by Islamist sect Boko Haram, amid regular clashes between sect and federal govt’s Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation Restore Order. Federal govt 20 July turned down request from Committee of Borno Elders to withdraw JTF, which is accused of excessive use of force, rights abuses. Govt 30 July announced official panel to open talks with Boko Haram, report back by 16 Aug. Growing insecurity along with ban on use of motorbikes fuelling mass exodus out of Borno state. Evidence that Boko Haram may have split into 2 factions; apparent main faction Yusufiyya Islamic Movement 20 July condemned attacks on residences and places of worship by other faction, announced ceasefire during Ramadan. Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) threatened to resume hostilities following announcement that 100 Boko Haram members suspected of bombing police HQ in Abuja in June would not be prosecuted.
President Wade 14 July in first speech since June violent protests said confident he could win reelection, stoking fears he plans to run for 3rd term, which opposition claims is unconstitutional. Thousands joined opposition protest in Dakar 23 July despite ban on political protests in key public areas; pro-Wade rally took place same day. Wade 25 July named new minister to oversee elections instead of interior minister criticised by opposition for alleged bias.
Violence erupted in Hotan (Hetian), southern Xinjiang, 17 July, resulting in at least 18 Uighur ethnic minority deaths. State media reported group of armed domestic terrorists with explosive devices attacked local police station, took hostages, planted extremist banners. World Uighur Congress contested official account, claimed violence occurred at main bazaar in Hotan when over 100 Uighurs gathered peacefully to protest ongoing police crackdown and detention of Uighurs. In second outbreak of violence late month at least 15 people including police officer reported killed in separate incidents in Kashgar, Xinjiang, including 31 July bomb attack, 30 July truck hijacking.
Following talks between senior U.S. and North Korean officials in New York 28-29 July, Pyongyang 1 Aug called for “early” resumption of 6-Party nuclear talks; U.S. said DPRK must show commitment to disarmament. N and S Korean representatives to ASEAN Regional Forum held informal talks 22 July, announced mutual commitment to restarting 6-Party talks. Controversy continues over severity of food insecurity in DPRK. EU 4 July announced it would deliver €10 mn in food aid to North; Seoul continues to express scepticism of WFP, EU, NGO assessments of DPRK food security; U.S. says it is continuing to monitor situation. DPRK military late June reportedly fortifying positions where it launched artillery attack against South Nov 2010, and late July seen preparing for large-scale joint exercise in area. 30 North Korean officials reportedly executed or killed through staged car accidents recently. Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang visited Pyongyang 10-13 July to celebrate 50th anniversary of Treaty of Friendship with DPRK; met with Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, parliament head Kim Yong-nam. Inter-Korean trade declined by 14% June 2010-May 2011; follows economic sanctions imposed by Seoul after March 2010 Ch’ŏnan sinking. France 11 July announced it will open a cultural office in Pyongyang, but clarified not normalising diplomatic relations with North.
Taliban continued assassination campaign against govt officials with string of high-profile killings. Ahmad Wali Karzai (AWK), brother of president and influential Kandahar governor, killed by bodyguard 12 July; analysts warned of power vacuum in Kandahar. At least 5 killed 14 July in suicide attack on AWK’s memorial service. Taliban 17 July killed Jan Mohammed Khan, influential adviser to President Karzai; 27 July killed Kandahar mayor Ghulam Haidar Hameedi. Week-long initial handover of security from ISAF forces to Afghan troops began 17 July: 7 regions transferred, including Bamiyan province, Helmand capital Lashkar Gah. At least 19 killed, including BBC reporter, in 28 July Taliban attacks in Uruzgan. Canada 7 July withdrew all of its 2,850 troops from country. French President Sarkozy 12 July announced withdrawal of 1,000 French troops by end of 2012; 7 French soldiers killed during month, including 5 in 13 July Kapisa suicide bombing. UN 14 July reported 1,462 civilian war-related deaths during first half of 2011: up 15% from same period 2010, highest since 2001. Gen David Petraeus 18 July stepped down as dual-hatted head of ISAF, U.S. forces; replaced by Gen John Allen.
Opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) called 6-7 July general strike protesting govt repealing law requiring independent caretaker govt to oversee elections; dozens injured, detained as protesters clashed with police.
At least 26 killed 13 July in series of bomb blasts in Mumbai; no claim of responsibility, police suspect Indian Mujahideen militant group. Supreme Court 5 July ordered Chhattisgarh state govt to disband civilian anti-Maoist militias, including Salwa Judum militia, previously accused of rights abuses. Separatist Assamese militant group ULFA 12 July announced unilateral ceasefire to favour ongoing peace talks with govt; Assam state govt welcomed declaration, urged breakaway ULFA commander Paresh Baruah to join peace process.
Following 27 July new Delhi meeting between Indian FM Krishna and new Pakistani FM Khar, both hailed “new era” in relationship: agreed to strengthen counter-terrorism co-operation, announced new confidence building measure on Kashmir. Police 8 July said 97 violent incidents in Kashmir during first half of 2011, lowest figure during 20-year insurgency.
Opposition Nepali Congress (NC) 25 July blocked parliament to protest Maoist demands for cabinet reshuffle. NC claimed PM Khanal had reneged on May promise to resign; Khanal said will only resign when consensus govt formed. Maoists 30 July threatened to leave coalition govt if Khanal does not appoint 19 Maoist cabinet ministers, but later withdrew threat following meeting with Khanal.
More than 200 killed in clashes between ethnic groups and political parties MQM, ANP in Karachi: 95 killed 6-9 July before govt deployed paramilitary troops to Karachi to restore order, but scores killed as violence re-erupted from 23 July. Independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan accused govt of failing to prevent killings. Relationship with U.S. increasingly strained: U.S. 10 July announced suspension of $800mn in military aid, said Pakistan needs to improve fight against terrorism; Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar 12 July threatened to pull back troops from Afghan border in response. Top U.S. Adm Mike Mullen 7 July said govt may have sanctioned May killing of journalist Saleem Shahzad, widely blamed on military’s intelligence service ISI; govt denied. Govt 5 July reported more than 28,000 displaced after army launched new operation against militants in NW Kurram agency. Afghan President Karzai 5 July expressed “deep concern” over Pakistani rockets fired across Afghan border; Pakistani army denied, said any cross-border fire “accidental”.
In 23 July local elections, largest grouping of Tamil parties TNA and allies won 20 of 25 local councils contested in Tamil-dominated areas in north, east; President Rajapaksa’s ruling coalition UPFA won all other contested councils. Local monitoring groups alleged violence against TNA supporters, voter intimidation by army before vote. International pressure on govt mounted after UK Channel 4 documentary alleging 2009 war crimes screened on Indian, Australian TV and before U.S. Congress. Unnamed Army officers quoted 27 July by Channel 4 said alleged May 2009 execution of surrendering LTTE ordered by Defence Secretary and former general now UN Deputy Ambassador; govt rejected claims. UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox, Indian Foreign Ministry, U.S. State Dept reiterated calls for govt to investigate war crimes allegations raised in film. Military 5 July lifted restrictions on foreigners visiting Northern Province, said NGOs still need permits to work there.
5-7 July Papua Peace Conference ended with call for internationally-mediated dialogue with govt. Spate of political violence in Papua: 17 reported killed as supporters of rival politicians clashed 31 July in Puncak; unidentified gunmen 1 Aug killed 4 in Abepura, police said suspected pro-independence OPM militants. Unidentified gunmen 21 July killed 1 soldier in Puncak Jaya. Earlier clashes between army and OPM left 6 soldiers injured in separate incidents 5, 13 July. Political tensions rose in Aceh as 2 GAM factions took opposing positions on possible elections delay; senior GAM member close to Governor Irwandi Yusuf killed by gunman 22 July. 1 killed after bomb exploded 11 July at Islamic school in Bima, Sumbawa with long-standing ties to Jemaah Islamiyah and JAT jihadi groups; police 15 July arrested school’s director, 3 others. Court 28 July sentenced 12 to 3-6 months’ prison for Feb killing of 3 members of Ahmadiyah sect; rights groups, U.S. criticized leniency of sentences. Police 11 July arrested 8 alleged Darul Islam militants for weapons smuggling. Parliament early month delayed enactment of controversial intelligence law critics say limits civil liberties. Pakistan 25 July confirmed it will extradite Umar Patek, one of 2002 Bali bombers, to Indonesia.
In largest demonstration in years, more than 10,000 protested against govt in Kuala Lumpur 9 July; some 1,400 briefly detained as protesters clashed with police; rights groups criticised heavy-handed police response. Protests organised by local coalition of NGOs demanding more transparency in election process.
Clashes between Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and army lessened during month, but tensions remained high: KIA refused to sign new ceasefire agreement unless accompanied by political dialogue. KIA 15 July released documents allegedly proving atrocities against KIA, Kachin civilians by army over past decade. Army 19 July reportedly launched attacks against Shan State Army North, former cease-fire group. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) 28 July called on govt to implement ceasefire, open peace talks with ethnic groups. President Thein Sein during month implemented package of socio-economic reforms, including reducing export tariffs, increasing pensions. ASSK 3 July made “private” visit to Bagan, first trip outside Yangon since Nov 2010 release from house arrest. ASSK 25 July met Labour Minister Aung Kyi, first meeting with official from new govt; Aung Kyi said meeting “first step” to future dialogue.
Govt-MILF talks to resume mid-Aug, when govt due to submit delayed proposal for peace plan. President Aquino 30 June postponed elections in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao from Aug to 2013. Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants 28 July killed 7 soldiers on Jolo island; 12 July abducted 2 Americans, 1 Filipino outside Zamboanga City. China 12 July rejected Philippines’ offer to bring South China Sea territorial disputes before UN tribunal on maritime law; ASEAN 19 July expressed “serious concern” over potential escalation of dispute.
Following series of shootings in Dili killing at least 2, police 20 July announced increased security measures.
Pheu Thai (PT) party, supported by ousted ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, won outright majority in 3 July national election (265 of 500 seats); will form coalition govt with 4 minor parties. PM-elect Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s younger sister, said would not seek amnesty for a particular person after being accused of planning to grant amnesty for Thaksin, living in self-imposed exile; said would refer issue to Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand appointed by current Democrat Party (DP) govt. DP 8 July asked Election Commission (EC) to ban PT over alleged involvement of banned PT politicians in election campaign. ICJ 18 July ordered Thai, Cambodian troops withdraw from “provisional demilitarised zone” ICJ created around disputed Preah Vihear temple. Outgoing PM Abhisit said discussion between both govts needed before troop withdrawal, and that this will happen under new govt. Cambodia PM Hun Sen 22 July proposed 3-party talks with Indonesia as mediator. Govt 12 July extended emergency law in southernmost provinces by 60 days. Suspected Muslim insurgents 27 July killed 2 police in southern Pattani province.
8 May election dispute concluded 8 July as Electoral College refused opposition appeal to invalidate results, confirmed ruling DP party candidate Lulzim Basha for mayoral seat of Tirana. Opposition SP leader and incumbent mayor Edi Rama decided against street protests; senior party members urged Rama to end party boycott of parliament. International officials called for thorough review of election legislation.
Following mid month failure of parliament to support Slavko Kukić, State Presidency’s nominee for Chair of Council of Ministers, attempts continued to identify new candidate. Ongoing dispute over FBiH authorities’ legitimacy, and issues such as legitimacy of Central Bosnian canton govt, prolonging political deadlock in FBiH and at state level. Office of High Representative (OHR) 14 July wrote letter to Central Bosnia canton govt informing that it was established illegally since it ignored Vital National Interest clause invoked by Croat national parties; urged ruling parties to allow return of old cantonal govt until FBiH Constitutional Court rules on issue.
Tensions soared late month after Kosovo special police attempted to take control of 2 custom posts with Serbia to enforce new ban on imports from Serbia, and Kosovo Serbs responded violently 25 July. One police officer shot dead by Serbs 26 July; some 200 Serbs 27 July attacked and set fire to Jarinje border security post, fired at NATO KFOR forces. KFOR sent reinforcements to take control of the 2 posts 28 July, declared them restricted areas. KFOR in ongoing talks with Serbia. EU, U.S., UNSG Ban, Serbian President Tadic called for immediate restoration of calm. UNSC held closed meeting 28 July. PM Thaci said no return to the status quo, Kosovo will control all its territory. EU-mediated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia early month reached first agreements on civil registry, acceptance of academic diplomas, freedom of movement. Round of dialogue scheduled 20-21 July postponed until Sept, as sides judged to be too far apart to reach new breakthrough. International Steering Group extended International Civilian Representative mandate until end 2012. PM Thaçi 20 July requested Constitutional Court clarify immunity of President, PM and MPs. Kosovo Special Prosecutor indicted ex-minister, current MP Fatmir Limaj for war crimes.
Ruling VMRO-DPMNE and ethnic Albanian DUI early month agreed on new governing coalition, approved by Parliament 28 July. Albanians appointed to head Ministries of Defence and European Affairs for first time. Parties agreed on common platform focussing on improving economy, Euro-Atlantic integration, stepping up implementation of 2001 Ohrid Framework Agreement in areas of equitable representation, fiscal decentralization. Prerequisites to coalition were 2 key DUI demands on language and amnesties for 4 ICTY cases implicating senior DUI officials in war crimes during 2001 conflict. Parliament amended law on languages to extend use of Albanian in Parliament to govt-appointed officials, and controversially voted to have ICTY cases covered by 2001 amnesty law before govt formed. Opposition, families of victims said they will appeal to constitutional court.
Goran Hadžić, last remaining ICTY fugitive, arrested in northern Serbia 20 July, extradited to The Hague. EU welcomed arrest as “important step” in realizing Serbia’s European perspective.
Representatives from 3-party ruling coalition and opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) 18 July formed official working group to host series of discussions regarding political reform; second session of talks 26 July. Defence Ministry 25 July announced U.S., Armenian agreement to hold first ever joint military exercises.
4 July armed clash between Azerbaijani and Iranian border guards, apparently result of accidental crossing into Iranian territory, left Azerbaijani guard dead. Several senior members of banned Islamic Party of Azerbaijan (AIP), including Chair Movsum Samadov, went on trial on terrorism-related charges; party activists argue Samadov actually detained over speech criticising ban on head scarves in schools. Authorities denied request from AIP to stage rally 5 July. 6 opposition activists went on trial 13 July over April anti-govt protest in Baku; another opposition activist sentenced 22 July to 2 years jail for illegal possession of weapons. 29th session of Caspian Working Group met in Moscow.
Continued deterioration in Georgia-Russia relations as countries exchanged further allegations: Georgia accusing Russia of supporting a spy network on its territory, politicians in Russia accusing Georgia of re-building military to threaten Abkhazia and South Ossetia, aiding radical Islamist insurgents in North Caucasus. Russia criticised June visit by U.S. warship to Batumi, Georgia. Police 7 July detained 3 prominent photojournalists on suspicion of supplying secret information to Russian Defense Ministry, prompting criticism from journalist groups. Suspects agreed to plea bargain deal 22 July, received suspended sentences. President Saakashvili 28 June announced “completion” of electoral reform discussions, after govt succeeded in gaining majority consensus for its proposed electoral system reform, effectively splintering Group of 8 opposition coalition; 6 opposition parties 10 July unveiled new coalition to continue campaign for political liberalization. Parliament 5 July passed civil code allowing religious minority groups to be registered as legal entities; President Saakashvili 7 July signed amendment into law despite protests from opposition, Georgian Orthodox Church.
Expressions of deepening frustration and pessimism, particularly on Azerbaijani side, following failure of much-anticipated late June Kazan summit to produce significant progress on resolution of N-K conflict.
Militant attacks and clashes between militants and security forces continued to claim lives across region. In Dagestan at least 39 killed over month; incidents included Imam in Karamakhi village shot dead by unidentified assailant 9 July, school principle criticised by Islamist group for opposing wearing of hijab in school shot dead in Sovetskoye village same day; paramilitary police commander shot dead in Makhachkala 14 July; 21 July deadly shootout between security services and suspected militants near Khasavyurt, and 3 suspected militants killed during special operation outside Makhachkala; Dagestan president’s press secretary killed 28 July. In Chechnya’s Vedeno region 1 policeman killed, 2 injured in 2 July clash with suspected rebels, and 1 policeman killed, 7 wounded in 13 July clash with militants; 2 police killed, 7 injured 18 July in explosion near Kharachoi. Counter-terrorism operation announced for Grozny. Authorities announced 4 rebels killed by security services in Kabardino-Balkaria (K-B) 6 July; Russian air force launched large military exercise in K-B 18 July, first in 15 years; high level police officer killed 27 July. Several hundred participated in anti-govt protest 6 July in Baksan, K-B. FSB head 18 July reported arrest of 4 men in Moscow suspected of planning terrorist attack on transport infrastructure. End of division in insurgent Caucasus Emirate announced on Islamic website.
Police brutally dispersed anti-govt protests 3, 6, 13, 20 July, arrested hundreds; several hundred fined or sentenced to short jail terms. Crackdown condemned by international community.
Massive accidental blast 11 July at Greek Cypriot naval base killed 13 people, crippled country’s power supply, deepened Greek Cypriot economic malaise, forced govt shake-up and undermined President Christofias’s credibility. Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot chambers of commerce managed to negotiate Greek Cypriot purchase of significant amounts of power from Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders agreed to meet twice a week ahead of Oct meeting with UNSG Ban Ki-moon, as pressure builds for resolution before Greek Cypriot EU presidency in second half of 2012. European Commission President Barroso 20 July appointed adviser Jorge César das Neves as full-time representative to UN-facilitated talks. Turkish PM Erdogan 21 July told Turkish Cypriot journalists he would make no more concessions.
Increased PKK activities during month. 21 soldiers killed in clashes with PKK during month including 13 in 14 July ambush in southeastern Diyarbakır province; over next 2 days thousands of Turkish nationalists attacked BDP buildings in 7 major cities. Main opposition party CHP 12 July ended 2-week parliamentary boycott in protest at ban on jailed deputies; pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) boycott continued. Top 4 generals resigned 29 July in protest over detention of 250 officers in “Ergenekon” coup-plot case. PM Erdoğan 23 July ruled out normalisation of ties with Israel unless Jewish state “officially apologises” for deadly raid on Gaza-bound flotilla last year; UN report on flotilla raid delayed to late August (see Israel/OPT). U.S. Sec of State Clinton 15-16 July visited Turkey, praised anti-terror efforts, but criticised Ankara for restriction on media and freedom of expression. Govt 3 July recognised Transitional National Council as legitimate Libyan govt, promised additional $200 million in aid (see Libya). Number of refugees from Syria housed on Turkish side of border fell to less than 10,000 during month (see Syria).
Month saw continued protests by oil and gas workers over pay, conditions in Western Mangistau province. Police special forces 8 July reportedly attacked, arrested protesters; govt blamed unidentified political forces. 1-9 July clashes between police and armed group in Western Aktobe region, and operation in NW against militants suspected of killing 3 interior ministry officers in June left 2 officers dead, 5 wounded and at least 9 militants reportedly killed, 4 captured; contradictory explanations by govt for violence. Failed jail break 12 July in Balkhash led to 16 convicts blowing themselves up, at least 1 prison guard killed, 4 wounded. President Nazarbayev 10-21 July reportedly hospitalized in Germany for prostate surgery; amid uncertainty presidential advisor Yermukhamet Yertysbayev 25 July hinted President’s son-in-law Timur Kulibayev possible successor. Kulibayev immediately rejected speculation as “complete nonsense”.
Parliament 30 June adopted national concept paper on ethnic policy developed by nationalist Ata Jurt party; emphasises leading role of Kyrgyz in nation building. Serious but short-lived clashes 18 July between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Aravan district lead to renewed ethnic tensions ahead of 30 Oct presidential elections. According to Central Election Committee (CEC) 22 candidates registered so far, including nationalists Kamchybek Tashiev (Ata-Jurt), Adakhan Madumarov (Butun Kyrgyzstan). Disputes continue between MPs over new election laws, selection of CEC members, amid accusations authorities seeking to control elections.
Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) Sec Gen Nikolai Bordyuzha 13 July held 3-day talks with President Rakhmon, senior security officials amid increasing nervousness over border security following U.S. scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan; Tajik officials again ruled out return of Russian border troops. Authorities 12 July began trial of 53 alleged IMU militants suspected of involvement in Sept 2010 suicide bombing of police station; 14 July released BBC reporter Urunboy Usmonov, detained in June on terrorism charges. Officials 20 July claimed victory against Islamist rebels in eastern Rasht region following 10-month military campaign. Interior Minister 21 July warned again that rebel commander Mahmud Khudoyberdiyev might invade country; previous warnings proved baseless. Parliament same day passed amendment setting 5-year prison sentence for organizers of unapproved rallies, also passed law limiting children’s access to mosques.
President Berdymukhammedov 9 July declared willingness to hold dialogue with opposition groups, promised equal conditions for all candidates running in 2012 presidential elections. Opposition figures cautiously welcomed statement, demanded OSCE guarantees as previous convictions by authorities preventing some opposition members from returning. Explosion 7 July at ammunition dump in Abadan left part of town destroyed, possibly hundreds dead. Govt blamed incident on fireworks, admitted 15 fatalities; threatened anyone reporting on story, accused journalists of “slandering and disseminating provocative information”.
French court ruled against libel claim brought by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva after online publication described her as “dictator’s daughter”. Authorities 15 July heavily fined Uzbek press secretary of UK Embassy for meeting Uzbek rights activists. Govt raised transit fees for vehicles going to Tajikistan, 4th increase in 6 months, seen to worsen transportation blockade.
Govt 17 July announced drug police had destroyed some 230 cocaine processing labs in eastern Santa Cruz department; 5 July announced increased anti-drugs cooperation with Brazil. Several opposition parties 21 July said they will campaign for blank vote in Oct judicial elections they claim ruling MAS party will manipulate.
President Santos 3 July said FARC commander Alfonso Cano narrowly escaped 30 June military raid on FARC camp in Cauca-Huila border region. FARC 9-10 July killed at least 6, injured dozens in series of attacks on towns in Cauca; believed to be responsible for 12 July kidnapping of Nariño mayoral candidate, local councillor; and 18 civilians later released. Army 16 July killed 4 FARC rebels, including 10th front commander “Efrén”, in Arauca. Leader of armed group Rastrojos “Sebastián” killed 25 July by his bodyguards seeking govt reward. Gunmen 30 June killed witness in trial investigating links between local politicians and paramilitaries in Antioquia department. Political parties rejected more than 1,000 candidates for Oct local elections due to possible criminal records. UNODC 23 July reported coca cultivation in Colombia decreased by 15% from 2009 to 2010, potential production decreased by 19%.
Court 20 July fined opposition newspaper El Universo $40mn, jailed 2 directors and former opinion editor for criminal libel against President Correa; opposition, international press freedom groups criticised ruling.
Uncertainty over President Chávez’s health continued following his late-June admission that he had received surgery for cancer in Cuba. After 4 July brief return to Caracas, Chávez 16 July returned to Cuba to continue treatment. Chávez 25 July confirmed intention to stand in 2012 elections. National Assembly 16 July authorised Chávez to govern from abroad while receiving treatment, but opposition claims his absence unconstitutional, criticised govt’s lack of transparency over his health. Chávez 16 July for first time during 12-year rule delegated some administrative, budgetary powers to VP and Finance Minister. Police 13 July regained control of El Rodeo prison outside Caracas following month-long riots that left dozens of inmates dead.
Supreme Court (SC) 12 July rejected appeal by former first lady Sandra Torres against Supreme Electoral Court (SEC) ruling disqualifying her candidacy for Oct presidential elections. SC 30 July rejected second appeal by ruling UNE party; party said will appeal to Constitutional Court.
PM Martelly 6 July announced 2nd PM nominee, former Justice Minister Bernard Gousse; likely to be rejected by Senate, where party of ex-president Préval (Inité) holds majority. Martelly yet to form govt. MINUSTAH 14 July announced operation involving 2,100 peacekeepers against resurgent gangs in Port-au-Prince slums. Martelly 22 July announced he will ask parliament to extend reconstruction commission IHRC’s mandate by 1 year, called on IHRC to prioritise resettlement of hundreds of thousands displaced by earthquake. 29 arrested after Martelly’s presidential motorcade attacked during 26 July visit to Cap-Haïtien. MP Dionald Polyte (Inité, Grande Anse) killed 25 July in allegedly accidental shooting by bodyguard; police said investigating incident.
Opposition Partido Revolucionario Institucional 3 July won landslide victories in 3 state gubernatorial elections, including Estado de México, widely seen as early indicator of 2012 general election outcome. At least 97 killed 8-9 July in cartel violence, including 20 in Monterrey. At least 21 killed in Ciudad Juárez 13 July, highest daily death toll in city in 2011. Supreme Court 12 July ruled soldiers accused of human rights violation to be tried in civilian courts; rights groups welcomed ruling. Unidentified gunmen 22 July killed 2 police guards of U.S. consulate in Monterrey. Police 4 July arrested “El Mamito” in Campeche, allegedly 3rd highest leader in Las Zetas cartel. 18 July report by Ministry of Public Security stated at least 7 new criminal organisations have been created in Mexico over past year. 17 killed in 27 Ciudad Juarez prison riots. Police 29 July arrested alias “El Diego”, influential hitman with links to Gulf, Aztecas cartels, who reportedly ordered some 1,500 assassinations.
Undeclared Gaza-Israel ceasefire since 18 April ended with sharp escalation in projectiles fired from Gaza late June-July, increased Israeli attacks on smuggling tunnels, Qassam Brigades targets. UN 6 July report on 15 May deadly Nakba day protests along Lebanese border criticised IDF excessive force and protesters’ provocative, violent behaviour. Vice PM Ya’alon 21 July said Turkish insistence on Israeli apology for last year’s commando raid on Gaza-bound flotilla makes reconciliation impossible (see Turkey); planned “Freedom Flotilla 2” failed to arrive in Gaza as several boats damaged, all but one prevented from sailing from Greece. PA President Abbas 27 July called for peaceful “popular resistance” throughout West Bank in support of bid for UN recognition of Palestinian state. PA 27 July reportedly decided Oct Palestinian municipal elections will be held only in West Bank; election commission reports Hamas hampering preparations in Gaza. PApaid West Bank state employees only half monthly salaries July, PM Fayyad said PA facing “worst financial crisis”. 2 weeks of protests in Israel over high living costs peaked 30 July with up to 150,000 demonstrating in 12 cities.
In response to ongoing pro-reform, anti-corruption protests, King Abdullah 2 July reshuffled cabinet; included removal of unpopular interior minister Saad Hayel Srour. Major rallies continued.
Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah 2 July vowed 4 members of group indicted in June by UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) would never be arrested; dismissed charges as conspiracy to sow sectarian strife. PM Mikati 19 July said govt would support STL, hand over suspects “if they are in Lebanon”; STL 29 July lifted confidentiality on details of the 4 suspects in bid to speed up arrest. Hizbollah-backed Mikati govt 7 July won parliamentary vote of confidence; former PM Hariri’s March 14 coalition walked out before vote. Israeli Knesset 11 July approved map to be submitted to UN of proposed maritime borders that differ from borders proposed by Beirut; President Suleiman said Lebanon ready to defend borders and resources. 7 Estonians released after 114 days in captivity, kidnapping claimed by Movement for Renewal and Reform. 5 UN peacekeepers injured 26 July by roadside bomb in southern Sidon city; no immediate claim of responsibility.
Security forces backed by tanks 31 July launched assault on rebellious cities, scores killed nationwide with over 80 reported killed in flashpoint city of Hama; international community condemned violence, U.S. embassy said govt launched “full-on warfare” against its own people. Syrian rights groups said more than 1,600 people killed, at least 12,000 arrested since unrest began in March. Hundreds of thousands took to streets over month as daily anti-regime protests continued to spread, including to Homs, Hama. “National Dialogue” meeting opened 10 July, opposition figures boycotted, said any reform would remain on paper as long as security apparatus continues to operate with impunity. President Assad 20 July in 3rd speech since uprising began again promised reforms. Cabinet 24 July approved law allowing formation of political parties other than ruling Baath party, 26 July approved new election law; opposition dismissed “cosmetic” changes. 2 special advisers to UNSG Ban 22 July warned “serious possibility” regime had committed crimes against humanity, called for independent investigation.
Main Shi’ite opposition bloc al-Wefaq 17 July announced withdrawal from reform dialogue with ruling Sunni monarchy, citing lack of govt commitment, under representation. Dialogue concluded 24 July, recommended increases in parliamentary oversight of monarchy; approved 28 July by King Hamad. 1 reported killed, several injured 22 July as security forces used tear gas to disperse renewed protests; simultaneous rallies drew tens of thousands in and around capital. Independent international commission 24 July began investigation of events during earlier protests.
Military 16 July launched offensive against Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) militants along Iraqi border; several PJAK militants and Iranian soldiers killed in ongoing clashes. Attack came 1 week after Tehran accused Kurdistan regional govt of supporting PJAK militants; military 28 July said assault will continue until Iraq deploys troops to secure border (See Iraq). FM Salehi 12 July met IAEA chief Amano, said Iran ready to work with agency if it ends investigation into nuclear weapons program allegations; Amano rejected condition. Govt blamed U.S., Israel for 23 July killing of Iranian scientist in Tehran; both rejected accusation.
U.S. Sec Defense Panetta on visit to Iraq 11 July pressed lawmakers to decide on scheduled year-end withdrawal of U.S. troops, accused Iran of arming Iraqi Shiite militias who have stepped up attacks on U.S. troops; Iran rejected “baseless claims”. Political leaders 24 July failed to meet self-imposed deadline on U.S. troop withdrawal. U.S. colonel 24 July said from 1 Aug U.S. troops no longer part of trilateral operation in northern zones. At least 37 killed, 54 wounded 5 July in twin suicide attack in Taji, north of Baghdad; al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility. Security official 24 July said 16 suspected members of al-Qaeda cell arrested during month; group blamed for over 100 killings in Baghdad. 2 Iraqi Kurds killed 25 July by Iranian shelling in northern Kurdish region along Iranian border; FM Zebari 24 July called for end to shelling inside Iraq.
Rights organisation 22 July accused govt of planning crackdown on dissent with new anti-terror legislation; govt denied allegations.
Violence escalated in Arhab, mountainous area northeast of capital, where at least 40 killed 28 July in clashes between govt forces and armed tribesmen loyal to opposition. Capital Sanaa roughly divided between troops of general Ali Mohsen in NW, tribesmen loyal to al-Ahmars in parts of north, forces loyal to Saleh in SE and SW. Both pro-Saleh and anti-Saleh forces preparing positions in capital for a potential confrontation. Almost daily clashes between pro-Saleh army units and anti-Saleh armed tribesmen in southern city Taiz. In Abyan province scores killed, some 90,000 displaced since late May in fighting between govt forces, armed tribesmen and Islamist militants. Violence flared early July between tribesmen supporting Islamist Islah party and Huthi fighters in northern Jawf governorate; over 100 killed before tenuous ceasefire established 30 July. 9 soldiers killed, 21 injured 24 July in suicide bomb attack in Aden; officials blamed al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. Living conditions continue to deteriorate, with severe fuel shortages, electrical outages, rising food prices. President Saleh 7 July made first televised appearance from Saudi Arabia since 3 June attack, insisted will return to Yemen to lead a dialogue. Moderates in both ruling party and opposition continued without success to discuss ways of modifying Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative to break political impasse. Group of youth protesters 16 July unilaterally announced formation of 17-member transitional council; announcement received lukewarm reaction from opposition groups. Opposition parties announced intent to form National Council to complete revolution. Tens of thousands of opposition protesters continued to take to streets, called for Saleh and his family to step down immediately. FM al-Qirbi 27 July said Saleh will not give up power by force, only through elections. President 31 July called on opposition to return to dialogue around GCC initiative.
Wave of violence linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Kabiyle region, including twin suicide bombings 16 July killing 2 in Bordj-Menaiel. 3 AQIM suspects killed by security forces 25 July in Boumerdes. Military court 3 July remanded 15 soldiers pending completion of investigation into 23 June killing of civilian in Kabylie, Azazga; killing sparked wave of protests.
Largely peaceful sit-in protests in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez 8-31 July; activists demanded swifter reforms, faster prosecution of Mubarak and officials. In face of protests PM Sharaf 21 July shuffled cabinet, replaced 12 members including FM, though unpopular interior minister el-Essawy remained. Over 100 injured in clashes 23 July when protesters attempted to march on Ministry of Defence. Military 23 July intervened to break up rival protests in Alexandria; authorities denied using force. Field Marshall Tantawi, head of ruling military council, 27 July blamed foreign groups for stirring unrest. Parliamentary elections postponed from Sept, polls for both houses now in Nov. Ruling military council 20 July said it will not allow international monitors to observe elections for reasons of national sovereignty. Cairo court 25 July postponed trial of former interior minister Habib al-Adli until 3 Aug, to be tried alongside ousted president Mubarak; unclear whether Mubarak will appear. 6 killed, 21 injured 29 July in fighting between security forces and armed gunmen in Sinai region.
Military, diplomatic stalemate continued with minor progress on diplomatic front. Clashes between rebels, pro-Qaddafi forces continued around key towns including Brega, Misrata but little progress made by either side. Rebel forces control 200 km extending from Tunisian border inland; 6 July captured Gualish, 50 km from Tripoli; 28 July launched major western offensive, captured Ghazaya near Tunisian border. Transitional National Council (TNC) 28 July announced rebel military leader Maj. Gen. Adbel Fattah Younes and 2 aides assassinated by pro-Qaddafi forces after being summoned for questioning by TNC; TNC minister Ali Tarhouni 30 July claimed Islamist rebel Obaida Ibn Jarrah Brigade responsible. Rebels 20 July announced capture of pro-Qaddafi General Abdul Nabih Zayid near Zlitan; 31 July clashed with pro-Qaddafi loyalists in Benghazi. Regime shelling of Nalut and NATO airstrikes against Qaddafi forces, installations continued, despite increased pressure for negotiated settlement. TNC Chairman 24 July said Qaddafi may be permitted to remain in Libya as part of any political settlement, later recanted offer; ICC 26 July dismissed suggestion, said Libya obliged to arrest Qaddafi. 32-nation Contact Group on Libya, including U.S., UK 15 July officially recognised TNC as govt, major boost to rebel credibility. Qaddafi FM 21 July said negotiations only possible if rebels surrender, reaffirmed Qaddafi will not step down, but 22 July said talks previous weekend with U.S. in Tunisia “productive”, claimed regime had met with senior rebel leaders 6 times. Following latest round of negotiations UN special envoy Abdul al-Khatib 26 July said sides far from agreement.
At least 6 al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) militants killed 5 July by army following AQIM attack on army base near Malian border. Opposition 22 July called for postponement of Oct legislative and municipal elections citing “inappropriate conditions”; also set 5 conditions for entering govt-proposed dialogue including disavowing violence against peaceful protesters, freedom of media.
More than 98% endorsed constitutional reform in 1 July national referendum devolving some of King Mohammed VI’s powers to PM and parliament. Day after referendum thousands protested results in major cities, opposition dismissed reforms as inadequate, results as inflated; rights groups demanded investigation into “serious” election violations. Officials said thousands counter-demonstrated in Casablanca in favour of reform. February 20 movement organised weekly Sunday protests demanding deeper reform; pro-govt demonstrations also held. King 30 July called for prompt elections, reopening border with Algeria. Soldier killed 22 July in clash with AQIM militants crossing Algerian border, Jerada province.
Popular frustration over slow pace of reform sparked violent clashes between protesters and security forces in several cities 16-17 July. 1 protester reported killed in Sidi Bouzid, several police injured in Menzel Bourguiba. Interim PM Beji Caid Sebsi claimed religious extremists responsible for violence. Ahead of Oct elections, reform committee 20 July passed bill banning all foreign funding for political parties. Court 21 July opened 2 fresh trials of former president Ben Ali on charges of corruption, property fraud, 28 July sentenced him to 16 years jail.
Eighth round of UN-mediated informal negotiations 20-21 July between Morocco and Polisario Front failed to reach agreement.