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
The Syrian conflict continued to morph into a full-blown regional sectarian struggle (see our new report "Syria’s Metastasising Conflicts"). President Bashar Assad’s forces recaptured the town of Qusayr near the Lebanese border with the backing of Hizbollah fighters, whose open support for the regime is mobilising Sunnis across the region. An unprecedented conference in Cairo brought together some of the most prominent, and usually divided, Sunni religious opinion leaders in a joint appeal for jihad against the regime. Their call was endorsed by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Meanwhile Iraqi Shiite militia are reportedly streaming into Syria in ever greater numbers. As both regime and opposition forces take on increasingly overt confessional stances, the massacre of Shiites in the eastern village of Hatla, reportedly carried out by opposition armed groups, further inflamed the atmosphere. UN/Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi reported that a planned peace conference in Geneva is unlikely to take place before August at the earliest.
Sectarian clashes are becoming more frequent and intense in Lebanon as it is drawn further into its neighbour’s conflict (see our recent report "Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon"). Dozens were killed in clashes between the army and armed supporters of radical Salafi Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir in the southern city of Sidon in late June. At least six people were killed in clashes between Alawite and Sunni residents in Tripoli early in the month. Shelling across the border from Syria continued, including at least twelve rockets fired on the eastern city of Baalbek.
In Egypt tensions between supporters and opponents of President Morsi continued to intensify, aggravated by the deterioration in socio-economic conditions, increasingly frequent power cuts and fuel shortages. As aggressive rhetoric escalated on both sides, the opposition rejected President Morsi’s call for national dialogue. At least ten people were killed in unrest late in the month and during mass opposition rallies in Cairo and other cities on 30 June, which saw hundreds of thousands of protesters calling for Morsi’s resignation and early presidential elections, and tens of thousands showing support for the beleaguered president. The army has issued a 48 hour ultimatum to all sides to agree on a political settlement or else it will dictate a "road map".
In Libya the government remains unable to establish its authority over large swathes of the country. On 8 June a peaceful protest in Benghazi turned violent, with over 30 left dead when the Libya Shield, a government-allied militia, reportedly opened fire on protesters. The episode ignited ongoing clashes between factions of the state security forces and prompted the resignation of army Chief of Staff Youssef al-Mangoush. As dropping oil prices continued to undermine stability, competition between armed groups over the right to secure Libya’s lucrative oil export terminals left ten dead and scores wounded in Tripoli.
In Somalia, the arrest of senior Al-Shabaab leader Sheikh Dahir Aweys, despite a reported agreement from the Somali government that it would be willing to begin talks with Aweys, threatens to divide the capital Mogadishu between rival groups of the Hawiye clan, particularly between Aweys’s Habr Gedir and President Hassan Sheik Mohamud’s Abgal clans. Despite significant infighting, Al-Shabaab stepped up attacks during the month, killing scores, particularly in the Middle and Lower Shabelle regions, and shaking the fragile sense of security in the capital by launching attacks on the presidential palace and UNDP compound. In Jubaland, bordering Kenya, local divisions reached crisis point. Scores were killed in clashes between the Ras Kamboni militia, which is loyal to Jubaland president Ahmed Madobe, and local militias loyal to various clans and leaders, including in Kismayo where at least 80 were killed in fighting between Ras Kamboni and fighters led by former defence minister Barre Adam Shire Hirale. Skirmishes continue despite commitments from Madobe and President Hassan to end the fighting.
Opposition protests continued in Kyrgyzstan, challenging the authority of the central government and exposing its political, security and administrative fragility. Supporters of the nationalist Ata-Jurt party protesting in Jalalabad province in the south blocked the main Osh-Bishkek road for four days at the beginning of June, demanding the release of their leader Kamchybek Tashiev, imprisoned following an attempted power-grab last year. There were violent scenes during the appeals court hearing for Tashiev and other Ata-Jurt leaders on 17 June before they were acquitted, undermining President Atambayev’s authority and casting further doubt on the credibility of the judicial system. A series of skirmishes on the Uzbek and Tajik borders between ethnic Kyrgyz and Tajiks further underscored the government’s tenuous grip on authority. There are concerns that violence in the area could trigger wider ethnic unrest.
Tensions are running high between Azerbaijan and Armenia amid reports that another attempt to restart peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh had failed. The arms race escalated as Azerbaijan announced the delivery of a billion dollars’ worth of Russian weaponry and staged a huge military parade in Baku. An unconfirmed Armenian defence ministry source claimed Armenia is guarded with long-range offensive missile systems capable of hitting any target in Azerbaijan. The OSCE Special Representative for Conflicts warned that simmering conflict between the two may explode, and said that an attempt by Armenia to launch regularly scheduled fixed-wing air flights between Yerevan and Karabakh would provoke Azerbaijan and lead to an escalation in hostilities.
Relations between Georgia and Russia worsened as Georgia accused Russia of illegally demarcating the boundary separating the breakaway region of South Ossetia from Georgian-controlled areas, and “annexing” Georgian territory by installing fences deeper into territory previously under Georgian control. There were also further reports of Russian “border guards” detaining Georgian citizens near the boundary. Tensions are also on the rise within Georgia’s cohabitation government in the run-up to presidential elections in October. The interior ministry claimed to have found a large arms cache in the west which also contained videos depicting the torture and sexual abuse by police of two detainees in 2011. It claimed the footage showed the systemic nature of abuses under the rule of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM). The revelations came as speculation mounted that Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s government may arrest Saakashvili after the October elections. Dozens of former officials in the UNM government, among them a number of senior UNM figures, have been arrested since Ivanishvili came to power on a range of charges, including last month former prime minister and UNM secretary general Ivane Merabishvili.
President Nkurunziza 4 June signed restrictive media-control law. 2 journalists summoned to court 11 and 13 June, first to reveal sources, second on charges of breaching national security. Iwacu newspaper online forum forced to close until 1 July. Another journalist arrested 13 June, accused of breaching national security, links to Congolese M23 rebels, later released. Tensions over land ownership continued following 31 May riots in Bujumbura; some 23 rioters arrested, 19 convicted 4 June, sentenced to 3 years’ jail for rebellion. National Land and Properties Commission accused by Tutsis of being biased toward Hutu refugees.
UNHCR 18 June reported ongoing influx of Nigerian refugees fleeing military operations against Boko Haram. Ousted CAR President Bozizé 4 June left country for Kenya amid regional tensions over his presence in Yaoundé.
Prosecution delegation from Senegal Special Court trying former president Habré visited for investigative mission. EU commissioner for humanitarian aid visited 17 June, announced aid increase.
Nyatura militia 17 June attacked M23 convoy, at least 8 M23 forces killed. MONUSCO 27 June denounced M23 human rights violations. Army 22 June reported it had repelled Mai Mai assault on Lubumbashi prison.UNSG Ban 10 June announced Martin Kobler UNSRSG and head of UN peacekeeping mission. National Assembly 8 June announced new electoral commission (CENI) to be chaired by priest Abbé Malumalu, who chaired Independent Electoral Commission during 2006 elections, despite opposition to his appointment from Congolese Catholic Church; CENI sworn in 14 June amid scepticism. National Assembly 15 June invalidated 5 opposition MPs citing prolonged absenteeism; accusations that move politically motivated.
President Kagame 10 June said Tanzanian President Kikwete’s suggestion that govt negotiate with FDLRrebels “utter nonsense”; Tanzanian govt refused to issue apology.
UN HRC 14 June renewed for one year mandate of Special Rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea, condemned continued rights violations. Sudanese President Bashir visited mid-June, discussed bilateral relations with President Afwerki. Leader of exiled opposition Eritrean Islamic Reform Movement 12 June said 8 members arrested in Sudan border region, including chief of military wing Abu Abbas.
Thousands protested 2 June in Addis Ababa in first authorised demonstration since 2005 calling for govt to respect rights including freedom of speech, stop forced resettlements and release prisoners of conscience; opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice party 20 June threatened more protests unless anti-terrorism law repealed. Tensions with Egypt over Nile dam continued. Govt mid-month expressed willingness to review construction adjustments but refused to halt project; high-level talks ongoing.
National Assembly early June rejected Senate’s recommendation for budget increase for counties;President Kenyatta 10 June signed bill with lower county budget. Senators and governors 12 June brought appeal to Supreme Court alleging Kenyatta acted unconstitutionally and should have established mediation between two Houses of Parliament, called for greater autonomy in determining county budgets as part of devolution process. Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo 17 June appointed 47 county police commanders despite protests from National Police Service Commission (NPSC). ICC judges 20 June pushed back trial of President Kenyatta to 12 Nov. 9 killed 21 June in clashes between Garreh and Degodia clans in Wajir and Mandera county; Kenyatta 24 June ordered groups to surrender illegal arms, warned of possible govt security operation if conflict continues. At least 15 killed in grenade attack on IDP camp in Joroqo, Mandera 23 June.
Arrest of senior Al-Shabaab commander Hassan Dahir Aweys threatens to divide Mogadishu between rival Hawiye clans, particularly between Aweys’s Habr Gedir and President’s Abgal clans; month also saw security situation deteriorate across country. Aweys 25 June surrendered to local govt forces after fleeing Al-Shabaab infighting in Barawe, Lower Shabelle, 20-24 June; several killed in Barawe clashes, including top commanders who reportedly challenged Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. Aweys 29 June agreed to talks with federal govt, but was arrested by security and intelligence forces upon arrival in Mogadishu. Security deteriorated with worsening crisis in Jubaland and increasing attacks by Al-Shabaab,including on presidential palace and UNDP compound in Mogadishu. In Jubaland, at least 15 killed 7-8 June in clashes between Ras Kamboni militia loyal to Jubaland regional president Madobe and gunmen led by local leader Ifti Hassan Basto; 14 killed in clashes between Kenyan AMISOM troops/Ras Kamboni andSheikhaal clanmilitia in Hosingow, lower Juba 15 June; scores killed 27-30 June in clashes between Ras Kamboni and gunmen led by former defence minister Barre Adam Shire Hirale. Ras Kamboni reportedly took control of port city Kismayo 30 June, federal govt accused Kenyan AMISOM peacekeepers of siding with Ras Kamboni. MP Abdella Hassan Yarrow assassinated by unidentified gunmen in Mogadishu 23 June. Scores killed in heavy clashes between AMISOM/govt forces and Al-Shabaab in Middle and Lower Shabelle. Puntland police 4 June arrested Abdikafi Mohamed Ali, reportedly Al-ShabaaAb commander for Puntland. Al-Shabaab commander for Hiran region killed in gunfight 15 June.
Somaliland president Silanyo and FM Mohamed Abdilahi Omar 13 June met UN SRSG for Somalia Nicholas Kay, discussed establishment of UNSOM office in Hargeisa; govt reiterated position that UNSOM’s mandate does not extend into Somaliland. Authorities 18 June refused landing to federal govt authorised flight from Mogadishu.
Tensions with Sudan over oil, rebels continued (see Sudan). Upper Nile rebels led by Johnson Olonyi 13 June met with SPLA leaders, accepted govt amnesty. Médecins sans Frontières 14 June said govt blocking aid delivery by not allowing agencies to leave cities; Human Rights Watch accused security forces of detaining over 130 civilians without charge, other rights abuses. President Kiir mid-June dismissed Ministers of Finance Minister and Cabinet Affairs, accused of corruption.
Following his 27 May threat to suspend implementation of Sept 2012 cooperation agreements with S Sudan and shut oil pipeline if Juba continues to support Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels, President Bashir 9 June ordered shutdown of pipeline within 60 days, despite criticism from his National Congress Party (NCP) ranks. S Sudan VP Machar 30 June visited Khartoum, met with Bashir to discuss dispute. Khartoum and Juba continued to accuse each other of failing to withdraw troops from Demilitarised Border Zone; AUHIP requested AU dispatch team to investigate accusations. Officials accused JEM of sabotaging Abyei pipeline on 12 June; JEM denied responsibility. 1 UN peacekeeper killed 14 June when logistics base in Kadugli shelled by rebels. Over 40 killed 26 June in clash between Bani Hussein and Rizeigat tribes in El Sireaf, Darfur. Opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF) 10 June launched 100-day campaign to unseat Bashir and NCP; govt crackdown on media, students followed.
Opposition leader Kizza Besigye returned from U.S. 19 June, was prevented from attending rally in Kampala 20 June; police forcibly dispersed supporters. President Museveni’s son 24 June denied allegations he is being groomed to succeed Museveni. EU diplomat Roberto Ridolfi criticised President Museveni’s 6 June address to nation, said key issues including corruption and press freedom not addressed. New Vision journalist found dead 17 June.
National Independent Electoral Commission (CENIT) confirmed 13 June cabinet decision delaying polls scheduled for 24 July citing logistical and political problems, said it will consult with UN on new date. CENIT chair Beatrice Attalah 25 June called on international community to allow all 41 presidential contenders to run for elections, including transitional president Rajoelina, former president Ratsiraka and wife of former president Ravalomanana. UN, AU, SADC reiterated warning that they will not recognise election results should any of the 3 win; International Contact Group endorsed SADC/AU positions.
Suspected RENAMO ex-rebels 21 June ambushed several vehicles on main north-south highway leaving at least 2 dead; FRELIMO supporters 22 June staged nationwide marches to protest against armed attacks. Police same day arrested top RENAMO general and information chief Jeronimo Malagueta; Malagueta 20 June said govt using vehicles to transport arms and soldiers dressedas civilians to Sathundjira, planned to kill RENAMO president Afonso Dhlakama. Negotiations between govt and RENAMO resumed 24 June; Dhlakama 30 June said willing to meet President Guebuza to reach agreement on crisis.
President Mugabe 13 June issued presidential decree confirming 31 July election date, citing Constitutional Court’s 28 May ruling that polls be held by 31 July. MDC accused Mugabe of acting illegally, violating constitution. Constitutional court ruling on challenges to election date postponed to 4 July. 30-day voter registration began 10 June; mounting concerns over registration process and election preparations. ZANU-PF infighting continued; primaries to choose candidate delayed till 26 June; many losing candidates reportedly contemplating standing as independents in elections if grievances are not addressed. AU 19 June deployed advance group of long term observers.
ICC judges 3 June said evidence against former president Gbagbo currently insufficient for trial, extended prosecution investigations to 15 Nov 2013; victim groups demonstrated in Abidjan 17 June. Authorities 10 June arrested Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) youth branch leader Justin Koua on suspicion of involvement in “destabilisation activities”. UN independent expert on human rights Doudou Diène 15 June said govt restricting political activity, arresting party members without charge “or under generic charge of damaging state security”, suggested extending mandate of National Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CDVR) beyond Sept 2013, reiterated call for arms embargo to be lifted.
Opposition boycotted 3 June meeting with govt, called following deadly May clashes between opposition and security forces, to discuss election preparations; demanded release of detained May protesters. Bulk of those arrested released 4 June. Talks held 5-9 June, agreement reached on number of key points including company assisting with voter register and vote of diaspora. But several opposition demands not satisfied, including reopening of voter registration, reshaping of revision commissions tasked with updating electoral lists, and selection of new company for 2015 presidential elections. At least 12 injured 19 June when security forces dispersed gathering in Conakry supporting former PM Diallo, who was answering defamation charges; opposition 22 June withdrew from negotiations, demanded security guarantees and sanctions against attackers. Electoral commission 21 June issued new timeline for legislative elections, set polls for 28 July; opposition rejected timeline saying they need more time to prepare. Court 27 June indicted Minister of Presidential Security Claude Pivi for suspected role in Sept 2009 massacre in Conakry.
Political impasse appeared to be resolved after National Assembly 29 May validated key revised transition documents. African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) and Social Renovation Party (PRS) 31 May rejected cabinet repartition proposed by PM Barros, sides reached agreement following interim President Nhamadjo’s return from Nigeria 3 June. Nhamadjo and Barros 7 June appointed new 34-member cabinet: PAIGC/PRS received 8 seats; armed forces kept 3 representatives. Both Nhamadjo and Barros designated several cabinet members from Forum of Political Parties. National Assembly 12 June electedelectoral commission; Judge Augusto Mendes appointed commission president. President Nhamadjo 28 June announced legislative elections scheduled for 24 Nov.
Direct talks between govt and TuaregMNLA (NationalMovement for Liberation of Azawad)/HCUA (High Council for Unity of Azawad) began 8 June; preliminary agreement signed 18 June, included provisions for immediate ceasefire, stationing and disarming of armed groups in Kidal region, and facilitation of elections. Overall level of violence and armed attacks decreased throughout month but military operations still ongoing. Communal tensions also remain high; Amnesty International highlighted serious human rights abuses committed by security forces and different armed groups since beginning of Operation Serval in Jan 2013. MNLA 2 June arrested several alleged spies, expelled dozens of “black Africans” from Kidal. UNSC report 10 June expressed worries about enduring insecurity in north and limited progress toward reconciliation and extension of state authority; 26 June authorised deployment of UN peacekeeping force beginning 1 July. In bid to promote reconciliation between opposing factions in security forces President Traoré 26 June said all soldiers incarcerated since 30 April will be released. Electoral commission (CENI) president 27 June expressed doubts over feasibility of holding elections 28 July.
Several prisoners including Nigerian Boko Haram militants and arms dealer 1 June escaped Niamey central jail during gunfight. Gunfire exchanged 11 June at Niamey military training camp, no casualties reported; govt attributed firing to guards’ nervousness.
President Jonathan 4 June formally declared Islamist sect Boko Haram (BH) terrorist organisation and issued law to ban group, suggesting end to possibility of negotiations. Govt continued operations against BH. National Human Rights Commission said credible allegations received suggesting security forces engaged in rights violations including summary executions and rape in fightagainst BH. Youth group “Civilian JTF” (Joint Task Force) joined govt efforts; Boko Haram 18 June “declared war” on Civilian JTF, launched multiple revenge attacks including 16 and 19 June attacks on schools in Damaturu and Maiduguri. President Jonathan 18 June called for regional and international cooperation to counter BH threat. UNHCR mid-month said over 6,000 Nigerians fled fighting to Niger, 3,000 to Cameroon. Over 200 killed mid-month in clashes between Christians and Muslims in Jos. 48 killed 18 June in cattle rustler attack in Zamfara state. Suspected Fulani herdsmen 27 June killed at least 28 in attacks over cattle on 3 villages in Plateau State.
Casamance separatist faction leader César Badiate announced imminent release of remaining 9 civilian mine-clearing experts abducted in May, insisting authorities had acknowledged 6 June violation of earlier agreement on demining limits. President Sall 20 June announced reconciliation, reconstruction and sustainable development central to govt Casamance policy. Authorities 30 Juneremanded former Chadian dictator Habré in custody; trial for crimes against humanity expected to begin soon.
State media reported 35 people killed in Turban prefecture in western region Xinjiang 26 June in clash between police and rioters. Govt increased security in area amid reports of further unrest.
Tokyo denied existence of 1972 agreement with China to shelve Diaoyu/Senkaku islands dispute, dismissing 3 June statement by former chief cabinet secretary Hiromu Nonaka. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Deputy Chief of Staff 2 June said May claim by Chinese scholars that Ryukyu islands belonged to China is not official position, situation different than Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. Also said China privileges one-on-one talks for maritime disputes, “opposes moves by U.S., Japan and other states to team up against China”. PLA’s General Political Department director 7 June met with Japan’s Forum on China’sPolitics and Economy delegation led by former Japanese Self-Defense Force navy commander; both advocated for settlement of differences and disputes through cooperative dialogues. Japan’s former Vice FM Shotaro Yachi unofficially visited Beijing in effort to improve relations. Chinese vessels spotted in disputed waters off islands throughout month.
DPRK and ROK held working-level talks in Panmunjŏm border village 9 June, but high-level talks planned for 12-13 June aimed at normalising operations in Kaesŏng Industrial Complex (KIC) and resuming inter-Korean tourism at Mt. Kŭmgang called off 11 June after disagreement over delegations. DPRK 7 June restored Red Cross hotline with ROK, but cut it 12 June. DPRK National Defence Commission 16 June proposed high-level talks with U.S. over regional security, seniorU.S. official 17 June said talks will happen after DPRK proves willingness to commit to denuclearisation. U.S.-Korea Institute 3 June released report stating satellite imagery proves DPRK Yŏngbyŏn reactor could be restarted in 2-3 months. DPRK deputy FM 19 June met Chinese vice FM in Beijing, signalled willingness to restart talks. DPRK’s UN ambassador 21 June said United Nations Command must be disbanded and DPRK will not give up nuclear weapons as long as U.S. nuclear threat exists, demanded UN end sanctions. ROK and U.S. 3-5 June held talks to extend pact on civil nuclear power in ROK, ROK asked for possibility of producing own nuclear fuel; no agreement. ROK, U.S. and Japan Defence Ministers 1 June met in Singapore, issued joint statement underlining DPRK nuclear threat, confirming defence cooperation.
Militant attacks continued including attack on presidential palace in Kabul 25 June, Taliban ambush 27 June that killed 5 police in Herat. Afghan security forces officially took lead on all military operations 18 June; govt 23 June said 38 militants killed in military operations 22-23 June, 30 June said over 100 killed in military operations in Nangarhar province. Taliban 18 June held press conference, flag-raising ceremony in Qatar to mark reopening of office there; Kabul condemned move, said U.S. had assured Afghan govt that Taliban office would not have embassy trappings; govt 19 June suspended Bilateral Security Agreement talks with U.S. in protest.VP Fahim 11 June said govt ready to negotiate settlement to Durand Line dispute with Pakistan. President Karzai 17 June said Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies using extremist proxies to destabilise Afghanistan, 29 June accused other countries including Pakistan of seeking to divide Afghanistan into “fiefdoms”. Key opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah 6 June accused govt of trying to rig April 2014 presidential elections.
Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) 2 June filed motion to reinstate caretaker election govt for upcoming Dec-Jan elections. PM Hasina 4 June said elections to be held under current govt. Home minister 4 June said May ban on demonstrations applies only to violent rallies. Minister for Liberation War Affairs 24 June said govt to compile list of Pakistani collaborators during 1971 liberation war, to be excluded from voters list for elections. Unidentified assailants 17 June killed local Awami League leader in Pirojpur, SW. 10 Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen militants sentenced to death 22 June over 2005 suicide bombings in Gazipur.
Series of Maoist attacks throughout country: over 100 Maoists 13 June attacked train in Kundar, Bihar,3 killed; police officer killed in 1 June ambush in Khallari, Chhattisgarh; 3 killed in 14 June attack in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra; police officer killed 18 June in Kondagaon, Chhattisgarh; 1 killed in Maoist attack in Goan, Chhattisgarh. Police 22 June arrested Maoist leader Umesh Yadav, wanted since 2007, seizedlarge caches of weapons in Thekhi, Jharkhand.
Series of skirmishes reported alongside Line of Control (LoC), including 3 militants killed in gunfight with Indian forces 2 June; 1 Indian soldier killed in 7 June gunfight, firing allegedly originated from Pakistani side; Pakistani army 19 June reported Indian fire killed 9-year-old girl and injured 3 civilians. Pakistani Air Force 11 June reported Indian jets violated Pakistani airspace, Indian Air Force said incident unintentional technical violation. Several militants reported killed in gunfights with police in Pulwama, S Kashmir early June. Unidentified gunmen 22 June killed 2 police in Srinagar; 24 June ambushed Indian Army convoy in Srinagar, 8 killed. Indian PMSingh 25 June visited J&K, said ready for talks with those who shun violence.
Interim Election Council of Ministers (IECM) 13 June announced Constituent Assembly (CA) elections for19 Nov, formed Constituency Delimitation Commission to redraw constituencies per 2011 census. Election-related ordinance issued despite parties disagreeing on some provisions: removing proposed thresholdof 1% of total votes for parties to win proportional repesentation (PR) seats, retaining provision barring convicted criminals from contesting elections. 42 parties led by breakaway Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) 16 June enforced nationwide strike calling election date announcement unilateral and demanding its withdrawal. CPN-M demanding resignation of IECM, did not register with Election Commission. Other dissenting Madhesi and ethnic parties demand restoring number of PR seats, reduced from 335 for 2008 election to 240. Several Madhesi parties discussed forming electoral alliances.
14th National Assembly held inaugural session 1 June marking Pakistan’s first transfer of power from one elected parliament to another; Sadar Ayaz Sadiq of ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PLM-N)elected speaker 3 June. Nawaz Sharif confirmed as PM 5 June; allocated key cabinet posts but kept foreign affairs and defence portfolios for himself. PM Sharif 24 June said govt will bring case against former president Musharraf. Baloch nationalist National Party (N) chief Abdul Malik confirmed as Balochistan Chief Minister 8 June; Mohammed Khan Achkzai, senior Pashtun-dominated Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) member, sworn in as governor 13 June. At least 20 killed 30 June in 2 militant attacks targeting security forces in Peshawar and N Waziristan. Militants 15 June destroyed house of first governor general, historical monument and tourist site near Quetta. Same day, bombing of women’s university bus in Quetta killed 14, injured 19; victims taken to medical complex where second attack killed 4 security officers and local deputy commissioner; banned anti-Shia extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility. At least 28 killed in 2 bombings near Shiite mosque in Quetta 30 June. At least 7 killed, 15 injured including Justice Maqbool Baqir in Karachi bomb attack targeting judge’s convoy 26 June. Islamic militants 22-23 June killed 10 tourists at Nanga Parbat base camp. UK PM Cameron visited 29-30 June, met with PM Sharif to discuss Afghan peace process.
Doubts over date of northern provincial council elections, long-promised for Sept, grew after govt announced parliamentary select committee (PSC) to meet 9 July to discuss constitutional changes to provincial power and cabinet 13 June fast-tracked legislation to remove right of provinces to merge. Tamil and Sinhala opposition parties to boycott PSC; hardline Sinhala nationalist coalition partners launched campaign to either repeal 13th amendment or significantly cut back provincial powers. Indian govt 19 June publicly warned Sri Lankan govt not to weaken 13th amendment on provincial powers following visit by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leaders to Delhi. Opposition United National Party (UNP) early June released discussion paper outlining new constitution, including end to executive presidency, preservation of provincial powers under 13th amendment, restoration of independent commissions for human rights and police. Govt scrapped proposed “code of media ethics”, including draconian limitations on independent reporting, after widespread criticism. Govt mid-month announced establishment of committee to investigate activities of NGOs critical of govt; director of Sri Lankan office of German NGO Friedrich EbertStiftung arreste 13 June; director of Friedrich Naumann Stiftung questioned by police, prevented from leaving country following late-May workshop with opposition leaders.* Muslim-owned shop attacked 18 June in Tangalle town, reportedly by militant Buddhist group Sinhala Ravaya; Sinhala Ravaya members 17 June reportedly assaulted and detained group of Jehova’s Witnesses.
In Papua, mob in Oksibil, Pegunungan Bintang district 16 June shot arrows, torched district police station and set fire to dozens of vehicles after policeman beat up drunken man near station; 8 men arrested. Authorities reported 1 soldier, 2 civilians killed in attacks by separatists in eastern Papua late month. Trial began 20 June of 12 special forces (Kopassus) soldiers accused of storming prison and executing 4 inmates 23 March. Suicide bomber from East Java killed himself in front of police station in Poso 3 June. In manifestation of growing anti-Shia sentiment, local Sunnis in Sampang, Madura 19 June demanded group of Shi’a leave area; local govt, supported by Home Affairs Ministry and police, succumbed to pressure and decided to move them to another town in East Java. Protest against Constitutional Court decision overturning results ofPalembang mayoral election spiralled into torching of shops owned by businessman linked to winner’s camp and other ethnic Chinese traders 4 June. Parliament 17 June approved long-delayed cut in fuel subsidies, fuelling protests across country.
Myanmar hosted World Economic Forum for East Asia in Naypyitaw 7-9 June; major multinational companies announced $1bn in investments in Myanmar on sidelines. Speaking to journalists at forum, Aung San Suu Kyi reiterated desire to be president at next elections in 2015; lower house speaker Shwe Mann also expressed presidential ambitions for first time. Head of Shan State Army-South travelled to Naypyitaw mid-June to meet President Thein Sein, only second armed group leader to meet president. Kachin Independence Army (KIA) 23 June reported 21 clashes with govt troops since 30 May agreement between KIA and govt, underlying fragility of truce. UNHCR voiced concern over tensions, violence in Rakhine region following reports that 2 people killed and 6 wounded 27 June when security forces intervened in dispute at camp for Muslims displaced by violence in Rakhine state in 2012. Followed killing of 3 Rohingya Muslim women earlier in month by security forces. Inmedia interview minister of religious affairs defended Buddhist monk Wirathu, leading figure in 969 extremist anti-Muslim movement.
Continued concern over lack of progress on govt-MILF peace process as talks remain stalled. MILF complained after 4 of its members arrested for illegal possession of ammunition. In Mindanao, land conflictin SW North Cotabato continued, with hundreds of families displaced since May. Member of paramilitary Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) killed in clash with MILF members in area mid-June.In Sulu archipelago, member of police intelligence shot dead, allegedly by Abu Sayyaf Group(ASG), outsideIsabela City, Basilan 16 June. Several security forces killed across country by communist New People’s Army (NPA).Increased tensions between Philippines and China over South China Sea late June as countries exchanged threats, accusations over disputed territories. Philippines and Taiwan 14 June agreed to share maritime law enforcement procedures, establish means of contacting each other about enforcement actions underway, develop “mechanism” for releasing fishing vessels and crews.
Cabinet 10 June approved extension of emergency decree in southernmost provinces for another 90 days, and extension of Internal Security Act in several districts of Songkhla province and Mae Lan district of Pattani for another year. 3rd round of dialogue between National Security Council and militants led by Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) took place 13 June in Malaysia: the 2 sides pledged to reduce violence during Ramadan 9 July-7 Aug. BRN announced they would draft terms for ceasefire by 25 June, reiterated earlier demands: that Malysia be elevated to mediator; unconditional release of prisoners and lifting of arrest warrants for suspects in security cases; recognition of BRN as liberation movement;and participation of ASEAN members, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and other NGOs to observe talks. BRN 25 June released 4th in series of videos, announcing ceasefire contingent on 7 sweeping demands, including withdrawal of Thai security forces from region. Further talks in jeopardy after several high-ranking officials rejected new demands. Deadly violence continued in deep south, civilians and security forces killed in number of attacks, including 8 soldiers killed by bomb in Yala province 29 June. Anti-govt demonstrations gaining momentum in Bangkok and other urban areas, opposed to constitutional reform and “parliamentary dictatorship”. Govt braced for farmer protests after announcing reduction in rice subsidy scheme.
Protests began outside state parliament 5 June demanding MPs resolve dispute over adoption of new law on personal numbers which is preventing babies born since Feb 2013 from obtaining ID numbers and personal documents including passports; protests triggered by cases of infants unable to travel abroad for urgent medical treatment. Law blocked due to disagreement over whether numbers should denote entity of birth. Some 3,000 protested 6 June, blocked parliament building overnight, trapping MPs, staff and several hundred foreign visitors. High Representative Inzko agreed to call session of Peace Implementation Council (PIC) to end stalemate; PIC said pushing through law using executive powers not an option. Some 10,000 took part in largest protest in Sarajevo 11 June; smaller gatherings elsewhere in country, including Republika Srpska capital Banja Luka. Protesters also calling for 30% reduction in MP salaries. Some Serb, Croat officials refused to attend govt/parliament sessions in Sarajevo citing security concerns; PM Bevanda suspended govt 12 June. Govt 17 June rejected draft agreement on border with Croatia, day later accepted agreement, needed to allow flow of people, goods into Croatia when it joins EU. First census in 22 years given go-ahead for 1 Oct start.
Kosovo PM Thaçi and Serbia PM Dačić 21 June agreed on steps towards normalising relations and implementing 19 AprilEU-brokered agreement: Kosovo to hold local elections throughout territory and for 1st time in North 3 Nov; Serbian courts in North to close Sept; Serbian police premises closed, consensus candidate identified as regional police commander. Following agreement, EU Council 28 June agreed to launch talks on Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo and open accession talks with Serbia. Local Serb leaders considering options against agreement. Kosovo and Serbia appointed liaison officers 17 June to help monitor implementation of April agreement.
European Council 28 June agreed to open accession talks with Serbia, starting latest Jan 2014.
Rising anger at Russia over Moscow’s military assistance to Azerbaijan (see Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), steep rise in price of Russian natural gas supplies, Moscow’s perceived attempts to use its leverage to coax Yerevan into Russian-led customs union/ planned broader political “Eurasian Union”.
Ruling New Azerbaijan Party nominated incumbent second-term president Aliyev as its candidate in Oct 2013 presidential elections. Situation remains guarded as authorities mull possibility opposition may try to field united candidate for first time. Aliyev signed into law controversial bill criminalising so-called defamatory and offensive views posted online. Aliyev met with European Council President Van Rompuy for talks on energy, rights, Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.
Rising tension with Russia and domestically within cohabitation govt. Relations worsened with Russia over its demarcation of Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) separating Georgian-controlled areas from South Ossetia (SO). Georgiaclaimed Russia “annexing” territory by installing fences deeper into areas previously under Georgian control. Russian “borderguards” also detained further Georgian citizens near ABL. Georgian FM expressed concern, delivered protest note to Russia through Swiss Embassy. Georgian Patriarch Ilia II 1 June appealed to President Putin; European Union Monitoring Mission and NATO also condemned “borderisation” by Russian troops. Putin in 11 June interview said Moscow willing to restore relations with Georgia “in full scale” and called for cooperation combating crime and terrorism, but “cannot imagine” reversal of recognition of Abkhazia and SO. Russian-Georgian envoys met again 5 June to discuss trade, economy issues with limited results. Rising tensions within cohabitation govt ahead of Oct presidential elections as Interior Ministry 16 June claimed to have found large arms cache in west, videos depicting torture and rape of 2 detainees by police in 2011; several people including 3 acting, 1 former law enforcement officers arrested. Govt said it showed “systemic nature” of abuses under President Saakashvili’s UNM party, which condemned violence in tapes while saying they were “planted” among arms, which were purposefully hidden after 2008 war with Russia. Pro-Saakashvili Tbilisi city officials arrested and charged over alleged corruption; NATO chief Rasmussen, visiting Tbilisi 27 June, expressed concern over developments in Georgia. PM Ivanishvili hinted he may quit politics after Oct presidential vote. Revelations came as speculation mounted that Ivanishvili govt may arrest Saakashvili. Deaths of 7 Georgian NATO troops in Afghanistan in targeted suicide bomb further fuelled domestic political tensions.
Tensions running high between Azerbaijan and Armenia with further escalation in arms race. Azerbaijan 19 June announced delivery of $1bn worth of sophisticated Russian weaponry including nearly 100 top-line T-90 tanks, sophisticated rocket launchers, self-propelled artillery units. President Aliyev 26 June presided over huge military parade in Baku which also featured air fighter sorties and demonstrated new drone capabilities, pledged if necessary to retake all lost territory as well as Armenian lands. Unconfirmed Armenian defence ministry source countered by claiming Armenia is guarded with long-range offensive missile systems capable of hitting any target in Azerbaijan; unclear if claim referred to Russian systems delivered directly to Armenian armed forces or to Russian forces in Armenia. Also on 26 June,head of Russian CSTO-led military bloc and Russian NSC chief visited Yerevan to sign upgraded defence pact, pledged arms and more support. Truce continues to be violated with sporadic clashes, shooting. OSCE Special Representative for Conflicts 12 June warned that simmering conflict between the two may explode; voiced continuing concern Armenia might attempt to launch regularly scheduled fixed-wing air flights between Yerevan and Karabakh, causing near certain Azerbaijani reaction; also lamented reluctance of leaders to hold another bilateral meeting to diffuse tensions. OSCE attempts to jumpstart talks in June failed according to OSCE Minsk Group sources cited by media. U.S., French and Russian presidents whose countries co-chair mediation efforts 18 June expressed regret over impasse in talks; called for sides to re-activate efforts to reach settlement.
Mayor of Dagestan capital Makhachkala and notorious republican strongman Said Amirov arrested by federal security servicemen 1 June for suspected involvement in Dec 2011 investigator’s murder. Leader of Makhachkala insurgency captured alive shortly before arrest and reportedly provided evidence on mayor’s links with insurgency. Amirov’s arrest reportedly welcomed by many in population, but some fear it may cause instability in republic as power networks shift. Dagestan MP Magomed Magomedov arrested for supporting insurgency 27 June; head of Tabasaran district Nurmagomed Shikhmagomedov detained on Azerbaijan border on corruption charges. FSB officer killed in Babayurt village 17 June; emir of “Northern sector”of Dagestan Amirkhan Gusenov (Abuzzan) killed in Khasavyurt district 5 June. Security situation in NC deteriorated May-June with 45 people reported killed, 102 injured in conflict in May – mostly in Dagestan – and at least 52 killed/injured first 3 weeks of June. Clashes and shootouts between police and insurgency occurred almost daily in Dagestan, number of incidents also increased in Kabardino-Balkaria. 2 police reported killed in special operation in Chechnya 29 June. Head of Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov announced over 200 militants from Russia fighting in Syria “on Al-Qaeda’s side” 7 Chechens reportedly killed.
Leader of Moldova’s separatist Transdniester region Yevgeny Shevchuk 10 June issued decree marking region’s borders, including in Transdniester territory currently under Moldovan jurisdiction. OSCE, EU called on Moldova and Transdniester to work together to resolve dispute.
Turkish Cypriot president Eroğlu 10 June said he expected new UN-mediated negotiations with Greek Cypriots to start by Oct. Greek Cypriot-led Rep of Cyprus govt 26 June signed statement of intent with U.S./Israeli partners for €7-8bn LNG plant to develop Cyprus offshore gas.
Environmental demonstration that began 27 May against govt’s plans to develop Istanbul’s Gezi Park escalated into largescale anti-govt protests 31 May, spread to over 60 provinces. Police crackdown and clashes left 4 people dead, over 7,000 injured, dozens detained.PM Erdoğan met protesters 12-14 June, announced Gezi Park construction project on hold awaiting court decision, but scattered demonstrations and police interventions continue. Clashes between security forces and locals at Lice district in SE Diyarbakır province left 1 dead, 10 injured 28 June. Erdoğan organised pro-AKP rallies throughout Turkey starting 15 June in Istanbul. Withdrawal of armed PKK militants to outside Turkish borders continued. Process remains fragile; first PKK-army clash since mid-March left 1 Turkish soldier wounded 3 June in Șırnak province. PKK military leader Karayılan 19 June accused govt of sabotaging process by increasing military presence in Kurdish regions including N Iraq. As of 17 June, some 200,000 Syrians taking shelter in Turkish refugee camps, estimated 250,000 in cities. Turkey-EU relations deteriorated over harsh govt crackdown on peaceful protests; EU 25 June agreed to open Chapter 22 on regional policy, first chapter after 3-year hiatus, but postponed inter-governmental conference until after Oct, following Germany’s request.
President Nazarbayev visited Uzbekistan mid-June, issued call with Uzbek President Karimov for dialogue and agreement over upstream hydropower projects in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Anti-govt protests continued, challenging power of central govt and exposing its political, security and administrative weakness. Protests in south that began with 31 May storming of administrative building in Jalalabad continued, with about 1,000 supporters of nationalist Ata-Jurt party 2 June blocking main Osh-Bishkek road for 4 days. Demands initially included nationalisation of Kumtor goldmine, scaled back to release of Ata-Jurt leader Kamchybek Tashiev, imprisoned following attempted power-grab Oct 2012. Authorities arrested local leader Medet Usenov 2 June, prompting further protests in Jalalabad. Unrest broke out at appeals court hearing of jailed Ata-Jurt leaders including Tashiev 17 June, as Ata-Jurt supporters threw shoes and plastic bottles at judge and prosecutor and demanded immediate acquittal; judge acquitted defendants after initially saying he would announce decision on 24 June. Judge reportedly went into hiding following incident, which further cast doubt on credibility of judicial system. Rallies in south continued, including 27 June protest in Talas. As calm returned to northern Jety-Oguz district, site of violent anti-mine protests late May, govt lifted state of emergency there 3 June; protests broke out again 27 June demanding closure of gold mine. Parliament 4 June adopted resolution giving govt another 4 months to renegotiate terms of 2009 agreement on Kumtor goldmine with mining company. Series of skirmishes on Uzbek and Tajiks; Uzbek border guards 20 June shot dead alleged Kyrgyz smuggler, prompting hundreds of protesters to mass on Kyrgyz side of border near his village. Parliament 20 June set date for closure of U.S. airbase at Manas of 11 July 2014.
Coca growers in Apolo municipality 1 June briefly detained 5 members of Joint Task Force under taking coca eradication. Clashes related to eradication efforts continued, including highway blockages in Bautista Saavedra province that suspended transport to and from La Paz.
Peace negotiations between govt and FARC resumed 11 June to discuss 2nd agenda item, political participation. Govt’s chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle 13 June confirmed agreement would centre on steps to create legal, sustainable political presence for guerrillas. FARC 19 June submitted 10 “minimum” proposals for eventual agreement, including guarantees of political representation, participation of marginalised communities, rights for political opposition, also called for popular election of positions such as Attorney General and Prosecutor General. Major point of contention is FARC demand for achieving structural reform of state through constituent assembly,which govt rejects. Protests over coca eradication and peasants reservations turned violent in Norte de Santander’s Catatumbo region; 4 people killed.
Interior Minister Serrano 3 June said global war on drugs has failed, decriminalising drug use islogical policy response to problems associated with narco-trafficking; also said Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel is only foreign trafficking group with significant operations in Ecuador.
President Maduro 5 June denied rumours of further large devaluation of bolivar, blamed “corrupt, fascist right-wing” forces within country for attempting to spread fear about economy. Following several postponements, govt set elections for mayors and councillors for 8 Dec 2013. National Electoral Council (CNE) 12 June announced it concluded auditof 14 April presidential election results and found no discrepancies; Supreme Court yet to announce if it will submit legal challenges to election. FM Jaua 5 June met U.S. Sec State Kerry at OAS General Assembly in Guatemala.
Gunmen 13 June attacked police station in Salcajá town, Quetzaltenango dept, killing 8 officers and kidnapping station chief: President Pérez Molina blamed drug traffickers linked to Mexican cartels. Authorities 13 June said they had identified 54 narco-trafficking groups that operate in-country and 70 criminal gangs. Organization of American States 4-6 June held general assembly in Antigua focused on drug policy reform, agreed to series of regional and national meetings culminating in extraordinary assembly on drug policy reform before end of 2014.
Bodies of 3 left-wing activists, including local leader of Party of Democratic Revolution, found along road in Guerrero state 3 June. Armed group 4 June killed mayor in southern state Oaxaca. Mayoral candidate from ruling PRI party found dead 12 June, 2 days after being kidnapped. Gunmen in Oaxaca 27 June killed leader of left-wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) Nicolas Estrada, 29 June critically injured PRI politician Rosalia Palma. Mob burned 3 men alive in Chiapas state 4 June. Security forces 4 June rescued 165 migrants in Tamaulipas state and 58 migrants 12 June in Sonora state. Army 20 June took control of public safety in several municipalities in Durango state. Interior Secretary Osorio Chong said gendarmerie to have 5,000 members, half number previously reported.
New Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah resigned 20 June two weeks after his 6 June appointment due to disagreements with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abbas over mandate, further undermining PA’s public credibility. U.S. Sec State Kerry visited 27-30 June to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; ahead of visit Israel 26 June announced approval of dozens of new housing units in E Jerusalem. Internal Likud elections 25 June strengthened party’s hawkish camp, further constraining PM Netanyahu in making gestures necessary for renewal of negotiations. No progress in Fatah-Hamas unity talks. Israel 24 June conducted air strikes on Gaza Strip in response to 6 rockets fired into Israel in violation of country.
U.S. 9 June began military exercises in Jordan after sending Patriot missile battery and F-16 fighters 3 June; at Jordan’s request U.S. Sec Defence Hagel 15 June and President Obama 21 June agreed to leave missiles, jets and several hundred troops to deal with potential spillover from Syria; Russia expressed concern. Authorities 11 June arrested 3 reportedly travelling to join Syrian conflict;1 reported killed, 2 wounded 19 June in clashes at border between security forces and Syrians trying to enter Jordan. EU allocated $65.5mn to help with Syrian refugee influx.
As country increasingly drawn into Syrian conflict, sectarian clashes increasing. Shelling across border from Syria continued including at least 12 rockets fired on eastern city Baalbek, shelling of Bekaa valley,Hermel and Arsal border towns. Demonstrators protesting shelling blocked roads in Bekaa, Beirut, al-Abboudiyeh, al-Bireh and clashed with army, leaving 1 dead. Clashes between Sheikh Assir supporters and pro-Hizbollah group in Sidon prompted army deployment 18 June, 2 killed. First-ever clash between army and armed Sheikh Assir supporters in Abra near Sidon 23-24 June; dozens killed, over 100 arrested after army 24 June stormed Assir HQ. Violence in Tripoli between Alawite and Sunni residents early month left at least 6 dead. Anti-Hizbollah protest outside Iranian embassy in Beirut 9 June turned violent, 1 killed. March 14 political coalition and foreign countries supporting Syrian opposition condemned Hizbollah’s involvement in Syria conflict during month. EU 19 June failed to reach consensus on blacklisting Hizbollah military wing as terrorist group. President Suleiman lodged official complaints with UN and Arab League condemning Syrian violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.
Conflict’s transition to regional sectarian struggle continued to gain momentum. Regime continues to rely more heavily on foreign fighters: backed by Hizbollah fighters, Syrian army 5 June recaptured town of Qusayr near Lebanon border from rebels; launched offensives on Aleppo 11 June and Homs 29 June in bid to retake rebel-controlled areas. Iraqi Shiite militiamen reported to be streaming in in greater numbers, deploying in various parts of Rebel attack near military airport inDamascus 16 June reportedly killed at least 20 soldiers; 11 June massacre of Shiites in eastern village Hatla, reportedly carried out by opposition armed groups, further heightened sectarian tensions. Assembled in Cairo, leading Sunni clerics 13 June made joint call for jihad in Syria, endorsed by Egyptian President Morsi. Golan Heights border crossing briefly taken by rebels 6 June, recaptured a few hours later by Syrian army; Austria 11 June began withdrawing its UNDOF peacekeepers from Golan. U.S. 13 June committed to providingmilitary support to rebels after assessing that regime has used chemical weapons; Friends of Syria group 22 June met in Doha to coordinate future armsdelivery to Syrian rebels, while Russia 4 June defended planned delivery of MIGs and S-300 missiles to Syrian military saying it wasin line with international law. Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief commander Salim Idriss 21 June affirmed FSA received arms shipments.Leaders at G8 summit 17-18 June failed to agree on resolution of Syrian conflict but committed to push for planned Geneva peace conference. UN/Arab League envoy Brahimi 25 June said Geneva conference unlikely until at least Aug as opposition doesn’t appear ready. Russia 26 June completed withdrawal of all military personnel from Syria due to security threat. UN 7 June launched largest ever humanitarian aid appeal of $5bn.
Interior ministry 12 June announced 44 suspected terrorists arrested, including purported leaders of Feb 14 Youth Coalition; Bahrain National TV alleged group received financial and logistical help from Iran, controlled by Iraq-based Shiite cleric Sheikh Sayyed Hadi al-Mudarissi. Demonstrators 26 June protested in Saar village, west of Manama, following death of local Feb 14 movement leader Hussein Abdullah, who police said died in explosion while making bomb. Interior ministry 5 June announced security agencies investigating activities of Hizbollah in Bahrain, 25 June announced 9 Shiites suspected of links to Iran, planning prison attack, arrested. Court 25 June sentenced pro-democracy activist Zainab al-Khawaja to additional 2 months’ jail for insulting police. High Criminal Court 14 June sentenced 3 protesters to up to 15 years’ prisonfor chargesincluding participating in anti-govt protests, attempted murder of policeman. 6 sentenced to 10 years’ prison for2012 bombing; 7 sentenced to 1 year for “participating in illegal gatherings”; teenager sentenced to 1 year jail for insulting king. Crown Prince and first PM Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa visited UK, U.S. and Canada early June.
Hassan Rouhani, seen as moderate pragmatist, elected president 14 June, securing 50.7% of votes with approx 73% turnout, in largely unexpected result. Rouhani 17 June said Iran on path of reformation, called his election victory of moderation over extremism, promised “hope and prudence”, greater transparency on nuclear program and committed to build trust with West, 24 June said “ties with Russia will be key part of foreign policy”. Senior U.S. official 16 June said Rouhani’s election presents opportunity for renewed nuclear talks. State TV 16 June announced Ayatollah Khamenei issued “necessary guidelines” for President Rouhani in their first meeting. Ayatollah Khamenei 27 June said nuclear solution “easy” if West is serious about seeking an agreement. Head of Iran Atomic Energy Organisation 28 June said Iran to “press ahead with uranium enrichment program”. IAEA Chief 17 June said Iran making steady process in expanding its nuclear program despite sanctions. U.S. President Obama 3 June imposed sanctions on operations with Iranian currency; U.S. 4 June blacklisted 37 ostensibly private companies it alleged were controlled by Iran. UNSC 5 June extended Panel of Experts on Iran Sanctionsmandate until July 2014.Iran State TV 20 June said location for new nuclear research reactor selected in Zarghan, S Iran.
PM Maliki and Kurdish President Masoud Barzani met 9 June for first time since Nov 2010, stressed commitment to resolving issues such as resource revenue sharing, security deployments in disputed territories. But Kurdish armed Peshmerga fighters early month advanced into disputed cities Tuz Khormato and Sulaiman Bek; over 1,000 Kurdish soldiers in Iraqi army defected, threatened to join Peshmerga. Kurdish Regional Govt 30 June delayed presidential elections to 2015, extended term of Barzani; Kurdish opposition said move illegal. Meeting between Maliki and Sunni leader Osama al-Nujayfi 1 Juneyielded no tangible result, and month saw continued widespread violence in both majority Sunni- and Shiite-populated areas including 12 bombings in and near Baghdad 24 June that left 41 dead, over 10 injured; at least 22 killed 27 June in countrywide bombings. Scores killed late June in series of bombings targeting football players. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant group merging al-Qaeda Iraq’s and Syria branches, mid-June refused AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s call to dissolve new union. Govt 22 June announced deployment of additional forces in Anbar province along Syrian border, reshuffle of high-ranking army officers.
Govt 20 June announced 25 July elections following Constitutional Court’s dissolution of parliament, later changed date to 27 July.
Police 12 June arrested dozens protesting detention of relatives in Buraida; 21 and 22 June shot dead 2 Shiites in Qatif area, one reportedly wanted for causing unrest. Founder of Saudi Political and Civil Rights Association Abdulkarim al-Khader sentenced to 8 years’ prison for inciting sedition. 7 activists sentenced to 5-10 years’ prison for inciting protests on Facebook. Sectarian tensions increasing in response to events in Syria.
Govt early June announced major offensive against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Hadramout governorate; 3 soldiers and 7 militants reportedly killed 5 June in clashes at Ghail Bawazeer. Huthis in Saada Governorate 5 June buried leader Badr al-Deen al-Huthi, tens of thousands attended ceremony. 10 killed, dozens wounded 8 June when security services fired on Huthis demonstrating outside National Security (Intelligence) Bureau in Sanaa to demand release of political prisoners, disbanding of intelligence agency. Incident significantly escalated tensions between Huthis and Hadi govt, Islah and Salafis. Suicide bomber 19 June attacked market in Huthi-controlled Saada killing at least 3. Repeated protests in areas bordering Red Sea and South following daily blackouts, ongoing sabotage of oil and electricity infrastructure. Tribesmen 13, 27, 30 June sabotaged main oil pipeline in central Maarib province.
Month saw increased tension within elites and ruling parties as uncertainty over President Bouteflika’s health and succession continued. Security forces 31 May-4 June clashed with students at Bejaïa University, 9 June arrested 15 students attempting to stage rally. Institute for Security Studies 21 June said Algeria at “epicentre” of 10,000 terrorist attacks in Africa in last decade. Terrorist attack near Bouira injured 2 soldiers 8 June; suspected terrorists 17 June launched mortar attack on Zbarbar army barracks. Security forces killed, captured several terrorists during month. U.S. offered up to $5m for information leading to capture/death of former AQIM emir Mokhtar Belmokhtar. Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa 24 June said willing to exchange Algerian hostage for 3 jihadis.
Tensions between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opponents continued to intensify, exacerbated by continued deterioration in socio-economic conditions, increasingly frequent power cuts and gasoline shortages. Amid increasingly aggressive rhetoric on both sides, opposition rejected President Morsi’s 2 June call for national dialogue. Thousands gathered for pro-Morsi rally in Cairo 21 June. Morsi 26 June proposed setting up committee for national reconciliation and another for proposing constitutional amendments, but opposition rejected initiative. At least 10 killed in unrest late month and during large-scale opposition rallies in Cairo and other cities 30 June, which saw tens of thousands protesting calling for Morsi’s resignation and early presidential elections; Morsi supporters also rallied. Anti-Morsi “Tammarud” (“Rebel”) campaign claimed to have gathered 22mn signatures in petition to oust President, while pro-Morsi “Taggarud” campaign claimed to have gathered 25mn signatures insupport of President. Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) 2 June ruled parliament’s upper house illegal but allowed to keep legislative power until new elections held; Shura Council 23 June approved SCC’s May amendments to draft electoral law. Controversial governor reshuffle by Morsi that saw Gamaa’ al-Islamiyya-founded Building and Development Party member Adel Assad Mohamed al-Khayat appointed as Luxor governor 17 June sparked protests, resignation of tourism minister; al-Khayat resigned 23 June, tourism minister withdrew resignation. Morsi 15 June announced Egypt has cut all ties with Syria, called for no-fly zone and Hizbollah withdrawal from Syria; Syrian govt condemned decision. Relations with Ethiopia still tense over Nile dam project (see Ethiopia).
Violence increased throughout month sparking fears in some quarters of renewed civil conflict. Over 30 killed 8 June during infighting in Benghazi between army and govt-allied Libya Shield unit; army chief of Staff Youssef al-Mangoush resigned following incident. Gunmen 14 June attacked at least 6 security buildings in Benghazi, killed 9 soldiers in Benghazi and Mizda; gunmen 19 June bombed empty National Security Directorate building in Benghazi, opened fire on Border Guard Authority. UK and Italy offered training for 7,000 National Guard members following call from PM Zeidan for increased international support for rebuilding army. Disputes over oil continued: protesters repeatedly halted production, armed groups continue to compete over rights to secure oil terminals; drop in oil production increasing risks of destabilisation. Pro-revolution militia infighting 24-26 June in Tripoli, which began over guarding of an oil facility, left 10dead and over 100 wounded; Defence Minister Mohammed al-Bargathi resigned. Car bombings in Sebha 25 June killed 2, injured 17.
Following King Mohamed VI’s return from 5-week unexplained absence, Istiqlal leader 20 June announced meeting with monarch late June to discuss political crisis stemming from his party’s vote to quit ruling coalition; disaffection of party and population has deepened over range of cuts to popular subsidies, reforms and PM Benkirane’s performance. Some 200 members of pro-reform February 20 protest movement gathered outside justice ministry 5 June to demand release of political prisoners.
Widening rift between secularists and Islamists with several arrests of secular activists. Draft constitution completed 1 June, prompted further debate in National Constituent Assembly on role of Islam in Tunisian state andlong-term aims of coalition-leading Islamist party An-Nahda. Standoff between govt and Islamist groups including Ansar al-Sharia continued; operation against jihadi militants near Algerian border left 3 soldiers wounded 1 June, 3 soldiers killed 6 June (2 by mine explosions) in Chaambi mountains.
AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma 4 June called on Morocco to end occupation of Western Sahara, stop persecuting Sahrawi people. EU parliamentary delegation 24 June visited territory capital Layyoune to inquire about rights situation.