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
Egypt’s political crisis took a new and uncertain turn when the military leadership decided on 3 July to oust President Mohamed Morsi from office, following huge protests against his rule on 30 June (see our media release). The military suspended the constitution and appointed head of the Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mansour as interim president. Mansour issued a roadmap for new elections and appointed a new interim cabinet which includes no Islamists. The military detained and arrested hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members, as well as other Islamist politicians who refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the new authorities. Morsi was put under house arrest, and is being investigated for murder and ties with Hamas. Violence intensified as pro-Morsi protesters clashed with security forces and Muslim Brotherhood opponents. Over 80 Morsi supporters were killed in a clash with Republican Guards on 8 July, and over 70 were killed during protests towards the end of the month. On 31 July the interim government said it would take measures to disperse the pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins. CrisisWatch again identifies a conflict risk alert for Egypt.
Democratic Republic of CongoSouth SudanBangladeshIraqEgyptTunisia
The assassination of opposition MP Mohammed Brahmi in the Tunisian capital on 25 July prompted widespread protests and further fuelled the country’s growing political polarisation. Thousands of pro- and anti-government protesters staged sit-ins in front of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) following the assassination, and 65 opposition members withdrew from the NCA. Governing troika member Ettakatol joined widespread calls for the government to resign. On 31 July the ruling Islamist An-Nahda party said it was open to forming a new government, opening discussions with troika members and the opposition.
Iraq saw a further increase in violence with insurgent operations in Sunni-populated areas and attacks by al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq across the country. The UN reported over a thousand people killed in July alone, marking the deadliest month since April 2008. Simultaneous al-Qaeda raids on Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons succeeded in freeing over 500 inmates, and a series of al-Qaeda bombings on Shiite majority areas in Baghdad killed over 50. Iraq risks becoming even more deeply involved in the neighbouring Syrian conflict as government forces find it increasingly difficult to stem the flow of weapons and militants across the Iraq-Syria border.
Zimbabwe held presidential, parliamentary and local elections on 31 July amid widespread reports of irregularities in the run-up to polling day and during the vote itself, including intimidation of voters, imbalanced media and vote-rigging allegations (see our new report). The largest national observer group said the credibility of the elections was “seriously compromised” by a “systematic effort to disenfranchise urban voters” – representing the core support base of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party. Tsvangirai called the election a “sham”, while figures in President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF were already claiming victory. Indications are that the African Union and the Southern African Development Community will accept the election as credible. Observers fear a disputed result could lead to a renewed political crisis in the country. CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for Zimbabwe.
Violence in South Sudan’s Jonglei state intensified in July when fresh intercommunal violence between Lou Nuer and Murle tribes left dozens dead, hundreds injured and thousands displaced. In Pibor county the national army proved unable to stem ongoing attacks by rebels led by David Yau Yau, and has itself been implicated in attacks on civilians and widespread human rights abuses in Jonglei. On 23 July, President Salva Kiir dismissed his cabinet following increased tensions within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), shortly afterwards holding consultations on the formation of a new, more unified government.
The Kivus in eastern DR Congo saw renewed fighting between government forces and M23 rebels despite exhortations from regional leaders to conclude peace negotiations as soon as possible (see our new report). On 30 July MONUSCO peacekeeping forces announced the establishment of a security zone around Goma, and called on M23 rebels to disarm. Reports of human rights violations by rebels continued. In North Kivu, operations attributed to Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels prompted tens of thousands to flee across the border to Uganda.
In Bangladesh a series of rulings by the country’s International Crimes Tribunal against former Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) leaders for crimes committed during the 1971 liberation war prompted violent protests, leading to the deaths of four JeI activists. Former JeI leader Ghulam Azam was sentenced to 90 years and JeI Secretary-General and former Al Badr militia chief Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed was sentenced to death for war crimes and crimes against humanity. On 1 August the High Court banned the Islamist party in light of the rulings.
UN SRSG Parfait Onanga-Anyanga 22 July said Burundi making progress but still faces challenges including cross-border incursions, “mixed” human rights record; said past 6 months saw “significant” advances in political dialogue. President Nkurunziza 27 July announced Burundi ready to deploy peacekeeping troops to CAR.
National gendarmerie late-June dismantled alleged Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram (BH) cell in Kolofata in north; authorities 3 July said over 20,000 Nigerians fled BH and Nigerian military operations into Cameroon.
International Contact Group met in Addis Ababa 8 July; PM Tiangaye requested additional support from AU and international community; AU emphasised importance of elections preparations for smooth transition, promised additional 3,600 troops within renewed MICOPAX called MISCA. Disarmament operations continued but core of rebel Seleka fighters remain in Bangui. UN humanitarian Chief Amos visited 12 July, said security remains major concern. President Djotodia 15 July said “security has returned” despite ongoing reports of rights violations; rights group FIDH mid-July reported extensive violations including rape, forced disappearances, use of child soldiers. UN peacekeeping office BINUCA condemned reported torture, extrajudicial execution. Humanitarian emergency continued: UNHCR expressed extreme concern for over 200,000 IDPs and 20,000 refugees. Djotodia 26 July announced creation of new Republican Army of Central Africa Republic (ARC) comprising old armed forces and ex-Seleka members.
FM Faki 8 July met with Niger counterpart, discussed threat from Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram, agreed to increased security and intelligence cooperation to combat jihadis in Sahel. Special court in Senegal 2 July charged former Chadian dictator Hissènne Habré with crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture; Chad chief prosecutor announced 3 Habré-era officials including 2 directors of political police force arrested and charged with torture.
Month saw renewed fighting between M23 and FARDC national army including clashes 14-17 July in Mutaho, near Goma; govt 17 July reported at least 120 M23 rebels, including 15 Rwandans, killed. M23 said 5 civilians killed in govt strikes on Rumangabo camp north of Goma 24 July. MONUSCO 30 July announced it would use intervention brigade to enforce security zone around Goma, gave rebels 48 hours to disarm, threatened use of force. Uganda 10 July unsuccessfully attempted to revive Kampala peace talks between DRC govt and M23 rebels; regional leaders 24 July called for ceasefire. UNSC 26 July discussed insecurity in east, stated support for peace efforts; regional leaders met in Nairobi 27-31 July to discuss regional insecurity and conflicts. Human Rights Watch report late July documented rights violations by M23 in east. Group claiming to be Ugandan ADF rebels 11 July seized Kamango, North Kivu, took hostages; FARDC 13 July retook town; UN reported tens of thousands fled to Uganda.
Leaked UN Group of Experts report dated 20 June said Rwanda providing “limited” support to M23 rebels in DRC. U.S. 23 July called on Rwanda to end support for M23 rebels. DRC 27 July issued arrest warrants for M23’s former president Jean-Marie Runiga and 3 other rebel leaders currently hosted as refugees in Rwanda. 2 mortars reportedly fired from DRC fell in Rubavu District 14 July. In 10 July letter to UNSC, Rwandan ambassador accused MONUSCO commanders of meeting with FDLR rebels in DRC; MONUSCO denied allegations. 11 members of Intwarane Catholic group arrested 23 July for illegal protest outside President Kagame’s residence in Kigali. 3 killed by grenade in Kigali 26 July.
UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea report leaked late July reported “emerging fissures within security establishment”, regime’s continued links with Somalia’s Al-Shabaab, warlords. UNSC 24 July condemned flow of weapons into Eritrea despite embargo, extended Monitoring Group’s mandate to Nov 2014.
42 opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) protesters calling for political reform and release of political prisoners and journalists arrested 15 July in Amhara region; all reportedly released next day. Govt mid-month said controversial resettlement programme, focused on Gambella region, to continue despite criticism from rights groups; visiting European Parliament delegation emphasised importance of consulting affected populations. Over 15% increase in defence spending approved in budget early July. Tensions with Egypt over Nile waters continued.
ICC judges 15 July ruled all proceedings in trial of Deputy President Ruto for crimes against humanity during 2007-8 election violence to be held at The Hague. Aide to former PM Odinga interviewed by police following allegations he plotted to initiate uprising; rights activists accused govt of intimidating dissenters. Leaked UN Monitoring Group Report on Somalia and Eritrea accused Kenyan Defence Forces of facilitating illegal charcoal exports from Kismayo, Somalia; military denied accusations, said report “poorly researched”.
Leaked diplomatic letter from FM Fawzia Yusuf to AU exposed rift between Federal Govt and Kenyan troops; govt accused Kenyan military of backing Ras Kamboni forces against other groups in deadly June clashes in Kismayo. PM Shirdon’s office 1 July called for replacement of Kenyan AMISOM forces in Kismayo with “more neutral AU force”. Al-Shabaab attacks and clashes with govt troops/AMISOM continued including suicide bomb attack on Turkish embassy in Mogadishu 27 July, killing at least 6 including Turkish security official; 10 killed in Baidoa 6 July; 3 killed in Al-Shabaab bomb attack on AMISOM convoy in Mogadishu 12 July. Govt 3 July offered amnesty for al-Shabaab defectors. Bakol Governor 6 July said Al-Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow in talks with govt, Defence minister denied talks. Semi-autonomous Puntland region President Farole suspended local elections scheduled for 15 July following deadly violence in Qardho and Galkayo. Leaked UN Monitoring Group report on Somalia and Eritrea reported Eritrea directly supporting warlord Abdi Nur Siad in influencing govt, said govt corrupt; UN 24 July extended Group’s mandate to Nov 2014.
Third round of talks between Somali Federal Govt and separatist Somaliland govt held 7-9 July; parties agreed to co-manage national airspace, failed to agree on travel restrictions on politicians; Somaliland 15 July lifted UN flight ban imposed earlier this year.
Security deteriorated in Jonglei where fresh fighting between Lou Nuer and Murle early July left scores dead and hundreds injured, and attacks by rebels led by David Yau Yau continued in Pibor county. Media reported several rebel commanders killed, David Yau Yau wounded, SPLM captured military base. Human Rights Watch accused SPLM of abuses against civilians in anti-insurgency operations in Jonglei, failing to stop Lou Nuer youth mobilising against Murle. President Kiir 23 July dismissed VP Riek Machar and all cabinet and deputy ministers following increased tensions within ruling SPLM, 31 July announced new cabinet members. Govt mid-July announced plans to shut down oil production following Sudanese President Bashir’s threat to close pipelines (see Sudan); 23 July said Sudan decision “unjustifiable” and “material breach” of Sept 2012 cooperation agreement.
Divisions within ruling National Congress Party (NCP) increased, sparking reports President Bashir planning to tighten grip on power through cabinet reshuffle. Opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF) and armed Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) mid-July announced closer ties; National Umma Party (NUP) leader al-Mahdi early July launched campaign to topple Bashir by peaceful opposition, distancing NUP from NCF-SRF alliance. Bashir mid-July ordered release of former National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) chief Salah Gosh, imprisoned Nov 2012 on charges of plotting coup. Violence increased in Darfur including attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers 2, 13 July that killed 7. JEM rebels 24 July attacked military convoy and army base near Jebel al-Dayer, N Kordofan, 27 July attacked Delang, S Kordofan. UNSC 30 July renewed UNAMID mandate to Aug 2014, called on rebel groups to end violence, hold peace talks with govt. Clashes between Central Reserve Police and NISS erupted in Nyala 7 July; militia leader and ICC-indictee Ali “Kosheib” wounded. Over 100 reportedly killed 29 July in fighting between Misseriya and Salamat tribes in Un Dukhun, S Darfur. President Bashir 18 July repeated threat to close oil pipeline from S Sudan unless Juba ends support for Sudanese rebels; AU 22 July announced investigation into accusations exchanged by Sudan and S Sudan over fomenting unrest in each other’s territory; govt said would delay oil pipeline shutdown to allow time for investigation.
President Museveni’s appointment of General Aronda as internal affairs minister approved 18 July despite legal bar on serving military officers taking ministerial positions; appointment prompted walkout from parliament by opposition MPs; opposition and civil society members late July threatened to seek impeachment of Museveni by Constitutional Court. Govt continued to harass opposition leaders: Kizza Besigye 23 July appeared in court on charges of planning illegal rally; opposition Kampala Major Erias Likwago placed under house arrest 22 July. 4 intelligence agents who worked with army general David Sejusa, who in May accused Museveni of grooming son for succession, charged with planning coup. Military spokesman 11 July warned rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) based in DRC reorganising, planning attacks on Uganda.
Former first lady Lalao Ravalomana, transitional president Andry Rajoelina, former president Didier Ratsiraka early-month each reiterated intention to run in upcoming presidential elections; SADC gave them until 31 July to withdraw from elections. Govt 23 July announced decision to restructure 21-member Special Electoral Court in line with May SADC request. Police 16 July detained presidential contender Laza Razafiarison for participating in unauthorised demonstration.
Presidential, parliamentary and local elections held 31 July after Constitutional Court 4 July dismissed applications seeking delay. Although vote largely peaceful, widespread reports of irregularities on polling day and in run-up including reports of intimidation of MDC voters, imbalanced media and vote-rigging allegations. Largest national observer group ZESN 1 Aug said credibility of elections “seriously compromised” by “systematic effort to disenfranchise urban voters up to a million voters”. PM Tsvangirai’s MDC party claimed attempt to disenfranchise its urban support base. Tsvangirai 1 Aug rejected “sham” election; figures in President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF claimed landslide victory, later retracted claims as only election commission allowed to announce outcome. Indications are that AU and SADC will accept election as credible. Observers fear disputed result could lead to return to protracted political crisis.
Court 11 July confirmed charges against over 80 figures from regime of former president Gbagbo, including former first lady Simone and son Michel Gbagbo, for war crimes, economic crimes and genocide. President Ouattara 4 July confirmed he would seek re-election in Nov 2015 polls. National Disarmament Authority (ADDR) convoy attacked 1 July by unknown gunmen, 1 killed and several wounded. At least 3 killed in clashes between villagers and gold miners near Bouaflé 10 July. Ivorian Popular Front 15 July rejected Ouattara’s call to “atone” for crimes committed during 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis. ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda 20 July concluded 3-day visit to country. New UN SRSG Aïchatou Mindaoudou arrived in Abidjan.
Govt, opposition 3 July reached agreement on preparation of overdue legislative elections; 24 Sept poll date confirmed 10 July by presidential decree. Court 13 July sentenced 2 to life prison for 2011 attack on residence of President Condé. At least 98 killed, 160 injured during inter-ethnic clashes between Konianké and Guerzé in N’zérékoré, Beyla and Koulé 15-17 July; govt announced investigation.
UN SRSG Ramos Horta 15 July said UNSG Ban would attend presidential swearing-in ceremony if elections go well, said biometric census, which President Nhamadjo favours, too costly and time-consuming. NGO coalition and trade unions 16 July declared oppositon to planned biometric census; Kumba Yala’s party PRS took similar stand 22 July. Detention of 2 Cape-Verdean police officers 20 July caused tensions between Bissau and Praia; Bissau released them 30 July. Govt 18 July approved$200m state budget.
Presidential elections held 28 July without major incidents, 50% turnout despite Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) threat to attack election offices and polling stations; former PM Boubacar Keïta leading in results, possibility of outright first-round victory; supporters of Soumaïla Cissé’s URD 30 July accused other parties of “ballot stuffing”; PARENA candidate Tiébilé Dramé 18 July withdrew from race after his request to postpone polls denied. Army re-deployment in north continued: Waraba battalion arrived in Tessalit, Aguelhok 27 July. Ongoing tensions in Kidal region: 11 July visit to Kidal town by regional governor aborted for security reasons, took place 15 July; at least 1 killed 18 July in intercommunal clashes; authorities 20 July reported several election workers kidnapped by unknown gunmen. Mixed commission bringing together army, MNLA/ HCUA, Operation Serval and ECOWAS representatives 4 July agreed to set up cantonment camp for MNLA forces near Kidal. Nigerian govt 18 July announced withdrawal of troops from UN mission (MINUSM) citing need for troops at home. French hostage Philippe Verdon, abducted Nov 2011 in Hombori, found dead.
AQIM dissident branch “Blood Signatories”, led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed responsibility for June attack on Niamey prison. Niger and Chad 8 July signed agreements to enhance security service cooperation and border control; U.S. 9 July donated military material including 2 planes to army to help fight Islamist groups in region.
State of emergency remained in place as military operations against Islamist sect Boko Haram (BH) continued. Minister of Special Duties Kabiru Turaki and BH Imam Marwana 8 July announced “an understanding” towards a ceasefire, denied by BH leader Abu Shekau 13 July and by President Jonathan 19 July. Military Joint Task Force (JTF) 15 July announced it had “substantially achieved” aim of destroying Islamist bases, killing up to 90 suspected BH 29 June-7 July and capturing members and leaders. “Civilian JTF” members 3 July clashed with BH in Maiduguri; Human Rights Monitor same day called for dissolution of vigilante groups. At least 30 killed in attack on Yobe State school 6 July; BH denied responsibility; BH leader Shekau 15 July approved attacks on schools. BH killed at least 43 people in Kaga and Kukawa areas of Borno State in reprisals against Civilian JTF 26-27 July, and over 25 in multiple bombing of Kano 29 July. UK govt 23 July declared BH terrorist organisation. Failure to arrest visiting Sudanese President and ICC indictee Bashir during 14-15 July visit prompted international condemnation. Fulani and Alago communities in Nasarawa State 12 July signed ceasefire following months of communal violence which killed over 100 in July; militia attacked 3 Fulani camps late July.
Gambian president Jammeh 5 July said he would not contribute to resolution of Casamance crisis unless Senegal asked him to. Casamance separatists 12 July released remaining 9 Denel Land Systems (DLS)/Mechem mine-clearing employees after 72 days’ captivity.
Japan 7 July announced plan to launch 9 satellites to monitor foreign ship intrusions and counter piracy; followed report that 3 Chinese govt vessels had entered disputed Senkaku/ Diaoyu island waters. Japanese defence ministry 9 July issued Defence White Paper highlighting China as major security threat; China said Japan exaggerated threats to bolster calls for military expansion, reiterated its maritime activities comply with law. Japan reported Chinese naval fleet spotted sailing through Soya Strait for first time 14 July; ships were 5 of 7 that participated in joint naval exercises with Russia 5-12 July. Japan 24 July scrambled fighter jets after Chinese military aircraft flew near its southern islands. China 26 July reported its new coast guard confronted Japanese patrol vessels in waters surrounding disputed islands. Japanese PM Abe 26 July called for high-level meeting between Japan and China; Beijing accused Japan of using “empty slogans”. Japan’s vice FM Saiki in Beijing 29-30 July for talks. Japanese defence review paper late month said Japan should bolster marine force, introduce surveillance drones. China confirmed exploration activities in East China Sea after Japan protested construction projects near “median line”; Japan 3 July said does not accept “unilateral development” in areas where countries have overlapping claims; China stated all exploration activities and plans within areas under its administration. State-run Chinese oil and gas firm announced proposal to develop new fields in disputed waters.
Panama 16 July announced it had detained DPRK ship carrying concealed weapons from Cuba. Cuban govt said cargo was “obsolete defensive armaments” being sent to DPRK for repair. Shipment violates UN sanctions that ban almost all DPRK arms imports and all DPRK exports of arms and military services. DPRK and ROK held further talks on reopening Kaesŏng Industrial Complex (KIC) but failed to reach agreement. More than 170 South Koreans 12 July travelled to KIC to inspect facilities and retrieve raw materials and goods. DPRK leader Kim Jong-un held talks with visiting Chinese VP Li Yuanchao 25 July. Pyongyang 27 July staged large-scale military parade on 60th anniversary of Korean War Armistice. ROK 16 July accused DPRK of cyber- attacks on ROK govt and private websites. Anonymous South Korean official 30 June revealed DPRK is deploying improved artillery along DMZ with ROK.
Insecurity continued ahead of 2014 NATO withdrawal and election, including series of bombings in south 20 July that killed at least 15. Interior ministry 1 July announced police death tolls rising, 300 police killed in June. UN 31 July reported nearly 25% rise in civilian casualties in 2013. Govt said some 29 Taliban militants killed 19-20 July in military operations, 29 July said 83 militants killed in week-long operation in east. President’s National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta 5 July defended govt decision to suspend talks with U.S. on Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), said talks meaningless without shared view on peace strategy. Several political parties including Rights and Justice Party, Afghan Millat and National Coalition of Afghanistan 10 July raised doubts over President Karzai’s decision to call consultative “Jirga” on BSA. Hundreds attended rally in Ghor province 14 July, called on govt to sign BSA amid rumours U.S. considering fast-tracked full pull-out. Karzai 8 July called for Taliban to renew peace talks, renounce war during Ramadan. Karzai 17 July signed law establishing roles of Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), 20 July signed law setting out April 2014 elections procedures, 29 July appointed 9 new members to IEC.
Series of International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) rulings during month against former Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) leaders prompted violent protests. ICT-1 15 July sentenced former JeI leader Ghulam Azam to 90 years for crimes against humanity during 1971 liberation war; ICT-2 17 July sentenced JeI SG and former Al Badr militia chief Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed to death for mass murder and torture; ICT prosecutors 18 July charged JeI Assistant SG Azharul Islam with genocide and war crimes. High Court 1 Aug banned JeI party. 4 JeI activists killed, several injured in clashes with police during protests against rulings in Dhaka 14-16 July. Suspected JeI activists 15 July killed Awami League local leader in Debhata, Satkhira; 2 JeI killed by mob while attempting to form road block in Mirupur, Kushtia. JeI student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir 3 July held nationwide protests against prolonged detention of its president Delwar Hussen, scores injured in clashes with police.
Bodh Gaya Buddhist temple in Bihar bombed 7 July, 5 injured; authorities reportedly suspect Indian Mujahideen militants. Maoist attacks continued including 5 security personnel killed 17 July in Aurangabad, Bihar. Unidentified gunmen 5 July killed former Maoist leader Ganti Prasada Rao in Nellore, Andra Pradesh. 6 suspected Maoists reportedly killed 24 July in clashes between factions in Jharkhand. Maoist commander Somra Hansda arrested 23 July in Chowka. Security forces 7 July killed 6 Maoists in gunfight in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, 19 July killed 3 Maoists in Kirambadunguri, Odisha.
4 killed, dozens injured 18 July when demonstrators protesting alleged violence by Indian patrols clashed with Indian Army in Ramban; authorities declared curfew. Skirmishes continued along Line of Control (LoC) including 5 suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) infiltrators reportedly killed in gunfight with Indian army, 2 Indian soldiers wounded by IED 8 July, 1 Pakistan soldier reportedly killed 27 July by Indian military. Suspected LeT militants reportedly killed policeman in Kupwara 13 July. Police 23 July announced Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant commander Qari Yasir killed by security forces in Lolab. 3 militants, 1 Indian policeman killed 1 July in gunfight in Pulwama. 4 policemen injured, arrested Hizbul Mujahideen militant killed 17 July in grenade attack in Srinagar.
Major parties in High Level Political Mechanism called breakaway Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and other parties for talks to address concerns about Nov elections and enable broad participation; issued “last call” 29 July; breakaway CPN-M and allies initially appeared willing, but finally rejected talks. Alliance comprising CPN-M and smaller identity-based parties Federal Democratic Forum and Federal Socialist Party Nepal 25 July announced efforts to disrupt Nov Constituent assembly polls. Supreme Court 23 July issued stay on implementation of Election Commission (EC) decision to link voter registration with possession of citizenship card. Constituency delimitation committee’s term extended again to 5 Aug after it failed to draw new constituencies. EC 11 July approved code of conduct for parties during election.
Al Jazeera 8 July leaked reported 2nd draft of inquiry report into May 2011 U.S. raid and killing of Osama bin Laden; report highly critical of Pakistan military and civilian authorities, noted “culpable negligence and incompetence at almost all levels of govt”. Ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N nominee Mamnoon Hussain elected president by lawmakers in 30 July vote. 9 killed 24 July in Taliban gun and bomb attack on Inter Services Intelligence office in southern town Sukkur. Over 200 inmates freed in Taliban attack on prison in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province 29 July. Political, sectarian, ethnic and gang-related violence continued in Karachi including 2 killed and at least 8 injured 21 July in attack on Awami National Party office. 7 killed 15 July by gunmen in 2 attacks in Quetta. 57 killed, 167 wounded, almost all Shias, in twin suicide attacks in Kurram Agency 26 July; 7 naval personnel killed in attack by Baloch radicals near Iran border 27 July. Clashes with militants continued in Khyber Agency: at least 15 militants and 4 soldiers reportedly killed 19-20 July. Intelligence officials 23 July said plot to assassinate PM Sharif foiled. U.S. Sec State Kerry arrived 31 July for talks on counter-terrorism, Afghanistan.
President Rajapaksa 5 July formally set in motion steps towards Sept elections to northern provincial council; Tamil National Alliance (TNA) 15 July announced retired Supreme Court justice C. V. Vigneswaran as candidate for northern province Chief Minister. Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) 16 July decided to contest northern provincial council elections alone rather than ally with TNA. Under intense pressure from Indian govt, Rajapaksa postponed planned 19th amendment to constitution that would reduce provincial powers, established Parliamentary Select Committee to consider changes to 13th amendment on provincial powers, excluding SLMC. Sri Lanka nationalist Federation of National Organisations 29 July staged protest outside Indian embassy in Colombo against perceived Indian interference. President’s brothers Gotabaya (Defence Secretary) and Basil Rajapaksa (Economic Development Minister) reiterated position that power over police and land will not be devolved to northern province despite being mandated by 13th amendment. Anti-Muslim campaigning by Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS) and other radical Buddhists continued, including attack on Muslim prayer centre in Mahiyangana 16 July. Gotabaya Rajapaksa 4 July admitted close ties to BBS leaders. Govt 5 July arrested 12 police officers for Jan 2006 murder of 5 Tamil students in Trincomalee; senior police official suspected of planning killings not arrested, no indictments filed.
Pacific Island regional grouping the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) met 13-21 July in New Caledonia, discussed status of Indonesia’s Papuan provinces; later endorsed right to self-determination for Papua and West Papua citizens, reviewing application of exile group West Papua National Council for Liberation for membership. Papua New Guinea PM O’Neil did not attend MSG meeting, 21 July visited Jakarta, signed extradition treaty with Indonesia and signalled interest in buying arms. Mobs 2 July burned 2 police stations in Rupit and Rawas Ulu, South Sumatra, following fatal shooting of man suspected of theft. West Java court 3 July sentenced bomb-maker to 7 years prison for role in plot to attack police in Jakarta Sept 2012. At least 5 killed 11 July in riots at jail in Medan, Sumatra; some 100 prisoners, including terror convicts, escaped. National Parliament 2 July enacted controversial law imposing obligations and prohibitions on NGO activities, severe limitations on foreign-funded organisations.
Curfew imposed on Rakhine State’s Thandwe township 30 June after mob violence against Muslim shops and houses; no reported casualties. Over 20 Buddhists imprisoned late-June/ early July for role in anti-Muslim violence in March in Meiktila that left dozens dead, mostly Muslims, and Muslim quarters of town destroyed. Some monks and civil society leaders circulating petition expressing support for law restricting interfaith marriage, has gained considerable public support. 5 people injured in explosion near sermon being given by radical monk Wirathu 21 July; Wirathu said bomb planted by Muslim extremists to “silence” him. President Thein Sein 12 July disbanded Nasaka paramilitary border force in northern Rakhine State, implicated in serious rights abuses against area’s Rohingya Muslim population. Govt 12 July signed confidence-building agreement with United Wa State Party ceasefire group aimed at defusing military tensions in southern part of Shan State. President mid-July visited UK and France; during UK visit pledged that committee reviewing cases of last political prisoners would complete work and all political prisoners be released by year-end. Another 73 political prisoners, including Shan rebels and Kachin prisoners of conscience, released 22 July. Govt announced it had signed revised contract increasing its share of profits from Chinese-backed copper mine. Export of Myanmar natural gas to China started late month. India 29 July announced increased military assistance to Myanmar.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace process boosted by 13 July signing of wealth-sharing annex with govt, 2nd of 4 annexes required to complete Oct 2012 framework agreement. In state of the nation address 22 July President Aquino reiterated his commitment to peace in Muslim south, also asked Congress to pass Bangsamoro Basic Law by end 2014 to establish new autonomy arrangements in Mindanao. MILF splinter group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), which opposes peace process, 6 July launched series of attacks in central Mindanao that injured 6 civilians, killed 5 soldiers. 2 soldiers, 5 insurgents killed 13 July in BIFM attack in Maguindanao province. Farmer killed 29 July as BIFM launched raid on villages in North Cotabato province. 26 July bombing in Cagayan de Oro, northern Mindanao, killed 8 and injured 48; no one claimed responsibility. Nur Misuari, founder of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), predecessor of MILF, angered by govt efforts to wind down Organisation of Islamic Conference-led review of failed 1996 peace agreement; organised rally in Sulu late month. Security forces reportedly killed 7 communist rebels in Tarlac province 31 July.
National Security Council (NSC) and Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) 12 July announced “common understanding” to curb violence for period of 40 days, including Ramadan, 10 July-18 Aug; BRN agreed to make effort to halt bombings and armed attacks on govt/civilian targets, govt agreed to “refrain from any aggressive actions”. Bombings and military operations continued in southernmost provinces, amid accusations of agreement violations. Bomb attack in Raman District, Yala, wounded 8 soldiers 11 July. IED attack on armoured vehicle in Cho Airong District, Narathiwat, wounded 2 rangers 17 July. Former Malay Muslim village headman and wife murdered in Yaring District, Pattani, 19 July. Security forces killed insurgent suspect in Cho Airong District 19 July, prompting BRN to file protest with dialogue facilitator Malaysia. Gunmen shot and killed several Malay Muslims, including 2 Islamic-school teachers in Bannang Satar and Muang Districts, Yala 15 July, and local-level officials in Muang and Yaring Districts, Pattani, 19 July. Peace-dialogue sceptics Chalerm Yubamrung (Deputy PM) and Sukampol Suwanathat (Defence Minister) removed or demoted in 30 June cabinet reshuffle; PM Yingluck Shinawatra took defence portfolio. Cabinet 1 July reversed its 19 June decision to lower guaranteed prices paid to rice farmers. Anti-govt groups continued to stage small demonstrations. Protesters rallied in front of Army HQ in Bangkok 10 July calling for coup to oust “parliamentary dictatorship”; army chief scolded group for demanding military intervention. NSC dismissed purported al-Qaeda video posted online 27 July, which threatened assassination of exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, as work of Thaksin’s domestic political opponents.
As “babylution” protests that began in June over parliament’s failure to adopt law on ID numbers fizzled out, House of Representatives 18 July passed ID number law, requiring number on IDs to include digit referring to 9 districts (5 in Federation, 3 in RS, 1 in Brčko), allowing entity citizenship to be discerned; new protests against law. Party of Democratic Action (SDA) vetoed law in House of Peoples 23 July citing violation of Bosniak vital national interests. Social Democrats and League for Better Future voted with Serb and Croat parties on law. EU Council 22 July chastised Bosnia over lack of reform. State investigators 19 July arrested SDA MP Šemsudin Mehmedović on charges of war crimes; SDA called for state investigation agency chief to be suspended for abuse of office, since no arrest warrant issued by state prosecutor. European Court of Human Rights 18 July issued landmark ruling against Bosnia finding it had violated rights of 2 men convicted of war crimes by state court by sentencing them based on 2003 criminal code instead of old Yugoslav code; ruling casts doubt on many war crime sentences issued since 2003. Authorities reported several Bosnian citizens fighting alongside radical Islamist group al-Nusra in Syria.
Northern Kosovo Serbs 4 July formed “Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija”, ad hoc representative body comprising local elected officials from northern municipalities. Belgrade exerting strong pressure on northerners to avoid provocations before start of Serbia’s EU accession talks: 19 July called on Kosovo Serbs to vote in Nov local elections. Northern leaders still mulling options, including boycott, mass turnout followed by mass refusal of elected officials to interact with Pristina. Under strong U.S. and EU pressure Kosovo Assembly 11 July passed controversial amnesty law, needed to allow northern Serbs to participate in Kosovo political life without fear of prosecution for political crimes; first (rejected) draft had also covered range of serious crimes.
June increase in Russian natural gas prices caused rise in electricity tariffs and public transport fares; sporadic but widespread protests followed. Russian gas price increase seen across political spectrum as “punishment” for Armenia’s plans to formally sign association and free trade agreement with EU late Nov.
Opposition groups 2 July nominated single candidate for Oct presidential election, who if victorious would stay in power for 2-year “transition period”. Govt said it would allow OSCE to observe election. 3 youth activists jailed for 15 days after distributing anti-govt stickers, leaflets.
Residents and IDPs from formerly ethnic Georgian Akhalgori district of South Ossetia (SO) mid-July reported Russian and SO military units no longer allowing vehicular crossings across that section of Administrative Boundary Line (ABL), until now only area still open to regular vehicle crossings. 24th session of Geneva talks between Georgia and Russia late June again ended in deadlock. Russian official 20 July alleged U.S. Navy operating “biological facility” near Tbilisi, threatened to halt recent improvements in trade relations with Georgia; said lab contravenes “biological weapons” treaties, represents “powerful offensive capability”. Followed earlier allegation that recent outbreak of African swine fever in Russia came from Georgia. Georgia and EU 22 July finalised details of planned Nov association and free trade agreement with EU. Rare private meeting early July between PM Ivanishvili and Davit Bakradze, frontrunner as United National Movement (UNM) candidate, and prominent Georgian Dream (GD) parliament speaker; Ivanishvili afterwards called for end to partisan political attacks. UNM primary vote in Zugdidi city disrupted by rock-throwing individuals, GD denied responsibility. Prosecutor-General in rare rebuff to PM Ivanishvili rejected his call to reverse June decision to release former prison official who published controversial videos released before 2012 elections that helped defeat Saakashvili’s UNM that showed guards torturing inmates.
In further tensions over NK, Azerbaijani and Turkish military units held joint military exercises in sensitive Nakhichevan exclave and near Baku. Armenian/NK officials so far refrained from promise to reopen airport in NK for fixed-wing flights, apparently result in part of international pressure. Azerbaijan and Armenia accused each other of hundreds of ceasefire violations; reported at least one death each during exchanges of fire along front lines 30, 31 July. Clashes also reported along northern international frontier between the two countries. Armenia said shooting broke out 23 July along main road close to border, accused Azerbaijani units of shooting at firefighters, reported road closed to traffic 17 July after area allegedly under gunfire from Azerbaijani positions.
In video address released early July warlord Doku Umarov called for jihad attacks including on 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Acting president of Dagestan republic Ramzan Abdulatipov, appointed by President Putin in Jan, 22 July dismissed republic govt, citing “inefficiency”. Violence reported in Dagestan included martial arts coach shot dead 8 July; journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev shot dead near home in Makhachkala 9 July; unidentified gunmen shot dead 4 police 14 July, 2 suspects killed next day; lawyer shot dead in Makhachkala 12 July; school teacher shot dead in Khushtad village 15 July; 2 Khadzhalmakhi villagers on anonymous “Khadzhalmakhi execution list” abducted in Makhachkala and Khasavyurt and killed 17 July, counter-terrorist operation in Laksky district identified men as insurgents. Rabbi shot by unknown assailant in Derbent city 25 July, seriously wounded. In Chechnya, security forces reportedly killed insurgency commander Rustam Saliev in special operation 8 July. Authorities reported bodyguard of Doku Umarov and another militant killed in clash with security forces in Ingushetia 13 July.
Turkish Cypriot president Eroğlu 16 July said peace talks anticipated for Oct “last chance for a solution”. Greek Cypriot president Anastasiades said talks could resume only under conditions that could lead to tangible results, including return of Famagusta. Republic of Cyprus National Council 17 July approved Foreign ministry Sec Gen Andreas Mavroyiannis as Greek Cypriots’ new “interlocutor” in any talks. In 28 July Turkish Cypriot general elections 4 parties entered new parliament, opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP) got highest vote with 38%.
Govt peace process with Kurdish insurgency PKK under threat as PKK and security forces resumed exchange of fire in SE (no fatalities to date). Turkish soldiers 4 July fired on crowd protesting construction of gendarmerie outpost, killing one; clashes between demonstrators and security forces in other SE provinces continued in following days. PM Erdoğan 26 June indicated no plans to start education in mother languages or lower 10% election threshold to enter parliament, 2 major Kurdish grievances. Interior minister 10 July said that withdrawal of militants to outside Turkish borders not complete; leader of PKK’s armed forces Murat Karayılan said govt’s turn to take steps. Senior PKK member Sabri Ok 25 Jul gave govt until 15 Oct to enact reforms, PKK leader Cemil Bayik 31 Jul said govt had until 1 Sept; no major moves expected until early Oct. Clashes on Syria border continued to spill into Turkey; 3 killed in Ceylanpınar from 17 July fighting across border in Ras al-Ayn between People’s Defense Forces (YPG), military wing of Syria’s Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD), and Jabhat al-Nusra front; Turkey returned fire, sent F-16s and drones to border. Amid reports of PYD’s imminent declaration of autonomy in northern Syria, Turkish nationalist opposition parties calling for military intervention. Anti-govt protests that began late May mostly calmed, despite underlying frustrations remaining unaddressed. Number of protest-related casualties rose to 5 as 19-year-old demonstrator, beaten by unknown assailants 2 June, died 10 July. Conditional opening of first EU accession chapter in 3 years followed by anti-EU statements by Erdoğan’s new chief adviser Yiğıt Bulut. Govt condemned ousting of Egypt’s president Morsi; Erdoğan reportedly refused phone call with acting VP ElBaradei.
During UK PM Cameron’s visit to Kazakhstan, first ever visit by serving UK PM, leaders 1 July signed partnership agreement. Amnesty International accused govt of concealing evidence of police torture of prisoners, called for independent international investigation into Dec 2011 violence in Janaozen. Opposition politician and activist arrested ahead of opposition meeting 12 July.
Following mid-June release of Ata-Jurt leader Kamchybek Tashiev and 2 other opposition MPs, the three embarked on tour of south, drawing large numbers of supporters including up to 13,000 in Jalalabad. Supreme Court 16 July began review of their case. Former Bishkek mayor and Ata-Jurt MP Nariman Tulayev sentenced to 11 years’ jail for corruption 30 July. Osh court 16 July banned Uzbek language news website Harakat.net on basis it aimed to cause inter-ethnic strife, promoted separatism. Clash between police and crowd of ethnic Uzbeks in southern city Uzgen 17 July after police stopped car; 2 officers and police station attacked. Fears of clash with rival crowd of ethnic Kyrgyz, prevented by show of police from Osh city; Uzgen remains tense. Guards protecting former deputy head of ousted President Bakiyev’s Body Guard, standing trial for role in April 2010 unrest, attacked 17 July by protesters with stones, who also trashed courtroom; several guards, defendant injured. In interview with UK newspaper President Atambayev berated UK authorities for harboring Maxim Bakiyev, son of former president; 19 July warned of potential coup by “regional potentates” who seek to split country. Kyrgyz border guards 23 July killed two Uzbek border guards in Jalalabad-Namagan area; sides gave conflicting accounts of incident. Bishkek daily Vercherniy Bishkek published controversial article lamenting demise of Bishkek city since arrival of internal migrants mostly from south.
President Rahmon expressed concern over growing religious extremism. Authorities suspended 5 out of country’s 6 legally-run madrasahs in northern province Sughd over lack of documentation. Zayd Saidov, former industry minister who faced corruption charges after he formed political party earlier this year, additionally charged with rape of a minor.
Reports of significant drop in cocaine production in past year; authorities said 5,689ha of coca destroyed Jan-June 2013. Relations with U.S. and Europe deteriorated following 2 July grounding of President Morales’ plane in Austria on suspicion he was travelling with fugitive U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.
FARC chief negotiator Iván Márquez 15 July expressed confidence country is nearing end of conflict, however FARC ambush in Arauca dept 20 July left 15 soldiers dead, prompting President Santos to order army “not to stop shooting” until conflict over. Constitutional Court 25 July held hearing on constitutionality of Legal Framework for Peace; judgment expected Aug. Speaking at hearing, Santos acknowledged state responsibility for violations of rights and IHL during conflict. Report released by govt’s Historical Memory Group found 218,094 Colombians killed by armed conflict 1958-2012, 80% of victims civilians. Prosecutor General’s Office 29 July confirmed army executed over 3,900 civilians since 1986 to inflate apparent success in fight against leftist rebels. State Council 9 July ruled Patriotic Union party, established as part of previous peace process and which lost legal status in 2002, can again run candidates for office beginning in 2014 elections. FARC chief Timochenko and National Liberation Army (ELN) commander Gabino 1 July issued joint communiqué calling for ELN’s inclusion in peace talks but ELN 16 July rejected govt preconditions for talks. ELN 29 July said release of Canadian mining hostage forthcoming, as Braeval Mining Corporation reportedly preparing to return mining titles to local communities. FARC 19 July announced it was holding former U.S. serviceman captive since 20 June, pledged to release him as “gesture” towards peace talks. Tensions between peasant communities and security forces in Norte de Santander continued, 4 protester deaths reported; UNOHCHR 15 July criticised govt for alleged “excessive” use of force; Santos 16 July stated Colombia no longer needed presence of OHCHR, then agreed one-year extension of its mandate. Authorities 27 July captured 20 alleged members of New Illegal Armed Group (NIAG) “Los Rastrojos”; 2 police suspected of acting as informants.
Security forces 3 July intercepted arms shipment in El Oro, 29 June recovered 1 surface-to-air missile in Sucumbíos; military sources said intended recipients were Colombian armed groups operating near border.
Govt 23 July said ending talks to restore relations with U.S. in protest at remarks by UN ambassador-designate Samantha Power that civil society experiencing crackdown in Venezuela. President Maduro 5 July made public offer of asylum to fugitive U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden. Maduro continued to work to establish authority over military; rival national assembly chairman Diosdado Cabello also continued efforts to expand influence. Head of daily El Nacional accused govt of trying to silence it.
Authorities 22 July captured 2 more suspected members of criminal network linked to June killing of 9 police officers; said group, reportedly linked to Mexican Sinaloa cartel, may be responsible for over 100 homicides. President Pérez Molina 10 July said he will ask congress to consider imposing 2-year moratorium on new metal mining licences in apparent effort to calm tension in indigenous areas. Center for Legal Action in Human Rights said reports of extrajudicial killings increased from 279 in 2011 to 439 in 2012; National Forensic Science Institute reported violent deaths rose 8% in first half of 2013 compared with same period 2012.
President Martelly denied involvement in 13 July death of judge who had investigated corruption charges against his wife and son; Senate ordered investigation. Group of international scientists studying deadly cholera epidemic concluded UN peacekeepers most likely source.
State and municipal elections held in 14 of 32 states 7 July saw violence against candidates, reports ahead of polls of attacks on campaign HQs and thefts of ballot boxes. Spate of attacks on federal police in Michoacán 23 July left at least 22 dead, including 2 police and 20 gunmen; 2,000 security agents sent to back up forces deployed in May. Navy 15 July arrested Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales alias Z-40, leader of Los Zetas criminal cartel, near U.S. border. Authorities 17 July rescued 81 Central American migrants kidnapped in Tamaulipas; same day found body of El Imparcial newspaper reporter; 18 July found 5 men burned to death inside abandoned truck on Saltillo-Monterrey highway; 29 July arrested 3 alleged members of Knights Templar drug cartel wanted for killing high-ranking navy officers. At least 7 human heads found 2 July in plastic bags on outskirts of Guadalajara.
U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations began in Washington 29 July; U.S. Sec State Kerry 30 July said negotiators will aim to reach final status agreement over next 9 months, all issues on table for discussion, “viable two-state solution” only way to end conflict. Martin Indyk appointed U.S. envoy to talks. Arab League 18 July expressed support for negotiations, Hamas 21 July called PA decision to resume talks “betrayal”. Israel 28 July passed law imposing referendum on any peace deal with Palestinians after pro-settler Finance Minister Naftali Bennett 22 July threatened to split coalition over issue; also agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners in stages as peace talks progress. Closing of smuggling tunnels into Gaza by Egyptian army following President Morsi’s fall prompted fears of extreme austerity in Gaza. Fatah 4 July called on Gazans to rise up against Hamas. Hamas 25 July shut down Gaza offices of Al-Arabiya TV and Maan news for “false” reports of Hamas interference in Egypt’s internal affairs. Israel 16 July condemned new EU guidelines excluding Israeli settlements from benefits under EU-Israel agreements and EU funds; 25 July limited cooperation with EU. Arab Israelis and Israeli rights activists 15 July protested in WB and Israel against Israeli ‘Prawer’ plan to demolish 35 Bedouin villages, move 40,000 Bedouins into new towns. Israeli Air Force 5 July reportedly bombed sites near Syrian city Latakia; U.S. said target was Russian-made Yakhont missiles.
Continued spillover from Syrian conflict with attacks on Hizbollah assets and allies. Dozens injured in car bomb targeting Hizbollah-controlled southern Beirut suburb Beir el-Abed 9 July; Syrian “Special Forces 313 Brigade” rebels claimed responsibility, also claimed 28 June attack on Hizbollah convoy. Roadside bomb 16 July struck Hizbollah convoy in Bekaa valley near Syrian border, killed 1. Gunmen 17 July killed pro-Assad Syrian media commentator Mohammad Darra Jamo in Sarafand; security services issued arrest warrants for Jamo’s family members, claiming no clear political motive behind his killing. Authorities 4 July charged Salafi Sheikh Assir and 36 supporters over June clashes in Abra. EU FMs 22 July agreed to blacklist Hizbollah’s military wing as terrorist organisation. Political deadlock continued as Parliament unable to convene due to boycott by some MPs, interim PM Salam still attempting to form cabinet.
Opposition militants regained initiative on northern and southern fronts, 22 July seized Khan al-Assal in Aleppo province. Regime forces continued gains in Homs and Damascus suburbs, reportedly killing at least 49 rebels 21 July, 29 July seized Khaldiya district of Homs from rebels. Syrian National Coalition (NC) 6 July elected Ahmad al-Jarba as new leader; election shifted balance of regional influence within NC from Doha to Riyadh. Interim PM Hitto, elected by NC in March, resigned 8 July after failing to form interim govt. Armed opposition saw internal fighting among factions: al-Qaeda Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) emir 11 July killed prominent mainstream Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel commander Abu Bassel al-Ladkani in Latakia. Violent clashes resumed between Kurdish militants and al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in various northern towns 16 July; militants 31 July reportedly took some 200 Kurdish civilians hostage after seizing 2 northern towns. UK PM Cameron 21 July indicated UK will not arm Syrian rebels; last U.S. congressional bars to arming rebels lifted 22 July. New Israeli airstrike 5 July on warehouse in Latakia (see Israel/ Palestine).
Trial of 50 defendants charged with terrorism and belonging to Feb 14 Youth Coalition began 11 July; claims of govt torture by 2 defendants sparked large demonstrations by activists, Al-Wifaq supporters across country 12 July. Rebel “Tamarod” Movement 3 July called for mass demonstration 14 Aug; interior ministry 13 July threatened legal action against participants. Parliament 28 July recommended tougher laws against upcoming protests and those who incite/commit “terrorism crimes”, ban on protests in capital, re-declaration of National Safety Law; King issued new laws 1 Aug. Al-Ashtar Brigade, suspected of links to Iran, claimed responsibility for 18 July car bomb near Sunni mosque in Riffa, 3 arrested. Interior ministry responded with crackdown on Shiite villages: Bahrain Center for Human Rights 22 July reported 60 arrests, 140 injuries, over 150 house raids. Bombs 7, 14, 27 July left 1 policeman killed in Sitra, several injured. MP Abbas Isa al-Madi’s residence reportedly firebombed 15, 21 July; 3 arrested.
Following P5+1 meeting in Brussels, FM Salehi 17 July said Iran ready to hold nuclear talks in Aug after president-elect Rouhani assembles negotiating team. Rouhani 18 July said will improve relations with neighbours, EU member states; 17 July pledged support for Syrian govt. Israeli PM Netanyahu 14 July called Rouhani “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” called for increased sanctions, threat of military force, said Israel “won’t wait to act until it’s too late”. U.S. House of Representatives 31 July approved legislation which amounts to total oil embargo on Iran.
Violence continued throughout month with at least 1,000 killed in series of bombings, insurgent operations and sectarian attacks across country; July reported to be deadliest month since April 2008. Interior ministry late month said country facing “open war” with sectarian forces. Al-Qaeda branch Islamic State of Iraq 23 July launched 2 simultaneous raids on Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons, said over 500 inmates freed. Militant groups conducted series of operations in Sunni-populated Salah al-Dine province, northern Iraq: 150 gunmen attacked Sulaiman Bek 24 July. 14 killed 28 July by suicide bomb in Tuz Khormato. 10 coordinated car bombs hit Shiite-majority areas of Baghdad 29 July, killing over 50. Shiite militants continued to cross border to join Syrian conflict. Kurdistan regional president Barzani 9 July met PM Maliki in Baghdad, discussed relationship between central and Kurdistan regional govt. UNSC 24 July extended UNAMI mandate to July 2014.
National Dialogue continued with little progress on solutions to core issues like future state structure; reports Southern Movement activists preparing to boycott dialogue outcomes by obstructing constitutional referendum and any subsequent elections. Huthi protests continued including large 19 July demonstration in Sanaa demanding justice for members killed by regime forces 8 June, calling for release of political prisoners, regime downfall. Huthis and Sunni al-Islah party supporters clashed over control of mosques including in capital; Huthis allegedly reinforcing fighting positions around Salafi Dammaj institute in north. Iranian embassy employee abducted 21 July in Sanaa. Gunmen 8 July shot dead high-ranking army officer in Hadramaut province; roadside bomb in Sanaa 6 July killed 3 soldiers. Land disputes in Sanaa left several dead. Attacks on oil, electric and internet infrastructure continued. Al-Qaeda affiliate group AQAP 17 July said deputy leader Saeed al-Shihri killed in U.S. drone strike; 6 AQ-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia suspects killed 28 July by U.S. drone in Abyan province; 3 AQ suspects killed by U.S. drone in Shebwa 30 July. Journalist Abdulelah Haider released 24 July after serving 3 of 5 years prison for aiding AQAP.
President Bouteflika 16 July returned following 82-day stay in France for medical reasons. Reported incidents during month included: security forces 6 July killed 7 Malian AQIM members near border; 19 July killed 4 gunmen during raid in Bouira province; same day killed 3 gunmen and destroyed vehicle carrying military equipment, reportedly from Libya; 27 July killed 2 “terrorists” in Illizi. Govt reported AQIM detonated bomb in Tizi Ouzou 16 July, ahead of visit by PM Sellal. Bomb explosion in Bouira province 23 July killed 2. 1 soldier reported killed 29 July in bomb explosion in Yakourène region, near Tizi Ouzou.
Political tensions reached new heights after military leadership 3 July removed President Morsi following mass protests late June/early July, suspended constitution and 4 July replaced him with head of Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mansour as interim president. Mansour mid-July issued constitutional decree dissolving parliament, also appointed new interim cabinet with no Islamists included; also appointed committee to review amendments to constitution. Muslim Brotherhood refused to concede presidency, 16 July said new cabinet “illegitimate”. Violence intensified as pro-Morsi protesters clashed with security forces and MB opponents; 8 July clash between Republican Guards and Morsi supporters left over 80 supporters and 1 army officer dead. Rival rallies late month saw over 70 pro-Morsi protesters killed. Military detained and arrested hundreds of MB leaders and members as well as Islamist politicians who refuse to recognise legitimacy of 3 July military intervention. Interim govt 31 July said it will take measures to disperse pro-MB sit-ins, considered to constitute a “threat to national security”; protesters defied announcement. Morsi put under house arrest and accused 26 July of murder, kidnapping and ties with Hamas; EU FM Ashton 29 July met Morsi, said appeared healthy. Militant attacks on security forces in Sinai continued, with sporadic sectarian attacks against Christians in Upper Egypt. UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait early July committed aid/loans totalling $12bn.
Tensions between armed groups over lucrative rights to protect petroleum facilities continued to rise in Tripoli following late June clashes. Brigade early July occupied interior ministry, prompting National Forces Alliance coalition to boycott congress sessions. Congress approved electoral law 17 July; Congress deputy president resigned same day, followed by 4 congressmen from minority groups who said law did not include previously agreed “consensus clause”. Hundreds demonstrated in Tripoli 7 July to demand departure of militias, creation of national security services. Attacks in east continued: military chief of Cyrenaica Council Hamed al-Hassi injured in gunman attack in Benghazi 4 July; air force Colonel Fathi al-Omami killed in Derna 15 July; retired air force colonel and senior policeman killed in separate attacks in Benghazi 27 July; bomb attack on Benghazi police station 24 July; activist Abdelsalam al-Mismari assassinated 27 July; over 1,000 inmates fled Benghazi prison after riot 28 July. UAE embassy targeted in rocket attack 25 July. ICC denied govt request to suspend surrender of Saif Qadhafi to The Hague.
Security forces 7-9 July arrested at least 22 “Black” Mauritanians and Senegalese following intercommunal clashes in Kaedi; various rights groups called for their release. Islamist Tawassoul party 13 July accused govt of failing to respond adequately, authorities 15 July released 9 detainees.
After 2-month political standoff, ruling coalition collapsed 9 July when Istiqlal party ministers resigned from cabinet; Islamist Justice and Development party began negotiations with Rally of National Independence party to form new coalition.
Assassination of opposition MP Mohammed Brahmi by salafi in Tunis 25 July, reportedly using same gun that killed leading opposition figure in Feb, prompted widespread protests, increased political polarisation across country. 2 major opposition parties Nidaa Tounes and Popular Front called for dissolution of govt and National Constituent Assembly (NCA), on basis that ruling Islamist An-Nahda has failed to govern and maintain security and lacks legitimacy in light of failure to complete constitution-drafting process. 65 opposition members withdrew from NCA following assassination, demanding national salvation govt. Tunisian General Labour Union called for “competence govt” and establishment of expert constitutional committee, supported by other unions. Governing troika member Ettakatol 29 July joined calls for govt resignation. PM Larayedh 29 July declared govt will “continue to perform its duties”, urged adopting constitution by end Aug, finalising electoral law Oct to hold presidential elections on 17 Dec. One hour later army reported al-Qaeda-linked militants killed 9 soldiers near Mount Chaambi at Algerian border; emotions running high in wake of attack. Following Brahmi assassination, thousands of pro- and anti-govt protesters staging sit-ins in front of NCA, tensions increasing between camps. An-Nahda end-month said open to forming new govt. Discussions within governing troika and with opposition focused on form of govt: political led by An-Nahda or neutral (competence govt or national salvation govt); and whether to dissolve NCA, opposed by An-Nahda. Bomb exploded on road near Tunis 31 July.
Following acquisition of 24 U.S.-made F-16 jet-fighters and 200 Abrams-type tanks by Morocco, Algerian army announced allocating additional $300m in military equipment to Polisario Front.