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 Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential and parliamentary vote went ahead on 28-30 November, after a campaign marred by violence and amid allegations of rigging and mismanagement. Political rallies were banned in the wake of election-related clashes in Kinshasa on the eve of polls, and sporadic reports of violence emerged, including from Lubumbashi and West Kasai, during voting. Four opposition candidates have already called for results to be invalidated, aggravating fears that violence may escalate as results come in – especially if the presidential contest is close. CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for the Democratic Republic of Congo for December.
BurundiDemocratic Republic of CongoSouth SudanSudanAfghanistanPakistanKosovoSyria
Democratic Republic of CongoSyria
In Burundi state troops clashed with the recently formed Forces for the Restoration of Democracy; the government reported 18 rebels killed. A civil society coalition group claimed 300 National Liberation Forces (FNL) members had been killed since July by government-backed death squads. Signs of media repression increased.
Relations between Sudan and South Sudan deteriorated further this month. On 9 November the Sudanese Armed Forces reportedly launched cross-border airstrikes on Maban County in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State, and a day later bombed Yida refugee camp in Unity state, killing 12. Late-month negotiations between the two sides failed to achieve a settlement on contentious oil and transitional financial arrangements. Both Sudan and South Sudan also grappled with internal instability. In Sudan, government forces repeatedly clashed with rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In South Sudan, South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) rebels continued to attack towns in Unity State, and rebel leader George Athor vowed to continue attacks in Jonglei after negotiations with President Kiir failed.
In Syria violence continued, with the regime’s brutal crackdown ongoing, elements of the protest movement increasingly militarised, the conflict internationalised and the Arab League’s attempt to end the bloodshed running aground. A United Nations report accused President Bashar Assad’s regime of crimes against humanity in its eight-month repression of anti-regime protests, which it says has left at least 3,500 people dead. Assad looked increasingly isolated as his refusal to implement measures agreed with the Arab League led the League to suspend Syria and introduce economic sanctions. CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for Syria amid signs that violence may escalate in the coming month.
NATO airstrikes on two Pakistan military border outposts left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead and U.S.-Pakistani relations in tatters. Islamabad swiftly condemned the attacks, requesting NATO vacate its airbase in Balochistan and shutting down its supply routes. The incident also damaged already strained Pakistani relations with Afghanistan, with the Pakistani government threatening to boycott forthcoming Bonn talks on Afghanistan.
Tensions continued to rise in Kosovo. Late month violence in the north between international KFOR troops and ethnic Serbs who are barricading customs gates with Serbia left dozens injured. Earlier in the month three ethnic Serbs including a Kosovo Police officer were wounded, one fatally, in a clash with ethnic Albanians in North Mitrovica.
Myanmar saw further positive developments this month. The announcement by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD party that they will contest seats in forthcoming by-elections marked their return to the political process. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s arrival in Myanmar at the end of the month – the first such visit for over 50 years – capped a flurry of other diplomatic visits. On 18 November, ASEAN leaders confirmed that Myanmar will chair the group in 2014.
On 1 November leaders of Nepal’s four main political parties signed a landmark deal to integrate one third of former Maoist rebels into the national army and give others financial rehabilitation packages, removing a major stumbling block to the drafting of a new constitution.
Morocco held the first elections under its new constitution, approved by referendum in July, which devolved some power from the monarch. The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) won 107 of the 395 seats in parliament. King Mohamed VI appointed as new prime minister the party’s secretary general Abdelilah Benkirane, who will now hold talks on forming a coalition government.
Following the official announcement of last months’ historic election results, Tunisia’s new Constituent Assembly held its first session on 22 November. The main parties quickly agreed to form a new government, with Hamadi Jebali, the leader of the moderate Islamist An-Nahda party which took over 41% of the vote, assuming the post of prime minister.
The first stage of parliamentary elections in Egypt took place at the end of November. The polls, the first since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February, were mostly peaceful despite deadly protests earlier in the month against the interim military leaders who replaced Mubarak. At least 41 people were killed and over 2,000 injured in clashes between security forces and activists. Crisiswatch maintains a close watching brief on developments in that country.
Troops 21 Nov clashed with recently-formed Forces for the Restoration of Democracy (FRD-Abanyagihugu) in Cancuzo; govt said 18 rebels killed. Civil society coalition Government Action Observatory 22 Nov said govt-backed death squads covertly killed over 300 FNL members since July. Reporters Without Borders 16 Nov called on govt to halt intimidation campaign after 9 radio journalists repeatedly summoned to prosecutor’s office early Nov over allegations of endangering public order related to Sept Gatumba massacre reportage; radio reporter arrested 28 Nov for allegedly helping FRD-Abanyagihugu.
Security forces early-Nov arrested Cameroonian People’s Liberation Army leader Rev Bertin Kisob, suspected of ordering 9 Oct killing of 2 gendarmes in Bakassi Peninsula and 29 Sept attack on Douala bridge. National anti-corruption commission 13 Nov issued report accusing several ministries of mismanagement, embezzlement. UNSG Ban praised Cameroon, Nigeria for implementation of ICJ ruling on Bakassi peninsula border dispute.
Gunmen 9 Nov killed 2 soldiers in attack on Ubangui river 30km SW of Bangui. Police tried to evict traders in Bangui 15 Nov; fighting left 2 dead, 6 wounded. Chadian rebels under Baba Laddé reported 19 Nov forcefully recruiting, raiding cattle near Bambari. Border with Cameroon closed for 3 days 24 Nov when govt troops opened fire in clash with policeman and Cameroonian military rapid intervention force.
Fears violence will escalate following 28-30 presidential elections marred by disorganisation, allegations of fraud and violence, and subsequent call by 4 opposition candidates for results to be invalidated. SADC, AU observers 30 Nov said polls success, no basis for annulment. Political rallies banned 26 Nov following violence in Kinshasa; police 28 Nov fired tear gas on crowd gathered at Kinshasa polling station. 7 killed 28 Nov in 2 separate clashes in Lubumbashi and West Kasai, SE. Opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) leader Tshisekedi 7 Nov proclaimed himself president, told followers to jailbreak political prisoners, provoking national, international condemnation. Opposition Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) candidate Marcus Gangale shot dead 22 Nov in Kinshasa. UNSC 29 Nov added Mai Mai Shka leader and parliamentary candidate Ntabo Sheka to UN sanctions list. UN Joint Human Rights Office report 9 Nov documented 188 rights violations Nov 2010 -Sept 2011, most involving police or National Intelligence Services.
Dutch Ambassador 14 Nov, provided Rwandan prosecutor with documents to be used in trial of opposition United Democratic Forces (UDF)-INKINGI leader Victoire Ingabire; UDF-INKINGI 16 Nov protested in Brussels, denounced “political” trial.
Govt 2 Nov denied reports it supplied weapons to Somalia’s al-Shabaab; 21 Nov complained to UNSC over Kenyan allegations it sent weapons, called for independent investigation, urged UN take action (see Kenya).
IGAD 25 Nov said Ethiopia had agreed to back efforts to defeat Somalia’s al-Shabaab; heavily armed troop convoys reported crossing into Somalia. 25 people, including senior Unite for Democracy and Justice Party politicians and 6 journalists, charged 10 Nov with terrorism; Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International 21 Nov called on govt to stop using anti-terrorism laws to stifle dissent. Teacher died after 11 Nov self-immolation at public meeting to protest repression. Court 3 Nov dropped participating in terrorism charges against 2 Swedish journalists; still charged with supporting terrorist group, entering Ethiopia illegally.
Series of al-Shabaab retaliatory attacks in northern border region. 2 killed, 3 injured 5 Nov in grenade attack on church in Garissa town, bomb planted at power transformer in central Garissa failed to detonate; attack blamed on al-Shabaab sympathizer. Al-Shabaab 6 Nov attacked police camp in Mandera district, left 1 dead; bomb targeting police exploded 15 Nov at Dadaab refugee camp wounding 4. UN aid convoy 5 Nov struck landmine which failed to detonate in Dadaab camp. Garissa leaders 19 Nov accused military of excessive force to flush out suspected al-Shabaab. Police 13 Nov reported 30 Kenya-based al-Shabaab militants accepted police amnesty; 26 Nov arrested 5 suspected al-Shabaab fighters in Lamu, 29 Nov arrested 4 suspects in Kiunga. Govt 1 Nov claimed aircraft delivering weapons to al-Shabaab landed in Baidoa, southern Somalia; FM Wetangula suggested arms supplied by Eritrea; govt 27 Nov filed case before UNSC sanctions committee calling for investigation, sparking diplomatic row. Series of public worker strikes mid-Nov over cost of Somalia military operation, low wages. Sudan 29 Nov expelled Kenya’s ambassador to Khartoum, day after Kenya court ruling ordered execution of ICC arrest warrant for Sudan President Bashir if he enters Kenya; Nairobi called ruling “unhelpful”, plans to appeal. Supreme Court 15 Nov refused to rule on date for elections, prompting increased concern over govt attempt to amend polling timeline.
At least 2 killed 8 Nov in Mogadishu grenade attack as al-Shabaab warned of increased assaults, claimed to have killed 15 govt soldiers in separate attacks. Al-Shabaab 2 Nov claimed 10 Kenyan soldiers killed in ambush on convoy near Dhobley; Kenya denied. At least 6 soldiers killed 12 Nov in grenade attack in Mogadishu’s Dharkenley district; landmine 12 Nov killed at least 9 al-Shabaab fighters in Bula Burde district, Hiran. Transitional Federal Govt (TFG), al-Shabaab 15 Nov both claimed victory in clashes in Hawin town, south. Kenyan troops backed by warships 20 Nov destroyed 2 al-Shabaab training camps in Badade district, Lower Juba. 10 killed by roadside bomb in Wagajir, Mogadishu 22 Nov; at least 7 killed 28 Nov in bomb attack on Mogadishu hospital. Suicide bomber killed 4 in 30 Nov attack on Mogadishu army headquarters. TFG President Sharif 16 Nov met with Kenyan, Ugandan counterparts, agreed to coordinated approach. Ethiopian troops 26 Nov reportedly reached Hiran. 3 al-Shabaab leaders, including former head of Union of Islamic Courts Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys targeted 13 Nov in missile strike on camp in Afgoye, U.S. denied involvement; 17 killed, 67 wounded 15 Nov in reported drone strike in Dhobley. Head of UN OCHA in Mogadishu 17 Nov said looting of aid major problem; 1 killed 11 Nov when soldiers fired on crowd at Mogadishu food distribution point; 6 killed, 25 wounded 17 Nov when govt forces reportedly opened fire, aid in Mogadishu camp. Al-Shabaab 28 Nov banned 16 aid groups, stole UN agencies from territory.
2 police officers killed 3 Nov in clash with gunmen in Erigavo town, Sanaag, area claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland. Puntland govt 9 Nov accused Somaliland security forces of killing 4, wounding 13 in Erigavo district, Sanaag 5-6 Nov.
North-South relations further deteriorated when Sudanese Armed Forces reportedly launched cross-border air-strikes on Maban County, Upper Nile State, and 10 Nov bombed Yida refugee camp, Unity state, killing 12; Khartoum denied. Negotiations with Sudan 25-30 Nov made no progress on oil and outstanding issues (See Sudan). Clashes between South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) rebels and govt forces continued. SSLA 24 Nov claimed govt soldiers and officer captured, urged civilians and aid workers to evacuate Mayom, Unity State, ahead of planned attack. Militia with suspected ties to rebel George Athor 16 Nov attacked 3 villages in Jonglei killing 4; Athor 20 Nov said further violence likely after talks with President Kiir failed. 2 journalists released 19 Nov after 2 week illegal detention by security forces allegedly for publishing article criticising marriage of President Kiir’s daughter to Ethiopian national.
Increased tension with S Sudan after SAF airstrikes in Upper Nile State and on Yida refugee camp, Unity State (see South Sudan); govt denies. Defence Minister Hussein 13 Nov claimed SAF seized heavy armoury belonging to S Sudan during clashes with SPLM-N in Blue Nile, S Kordofan; accused S Sudan of attempting to destabilise country. Govt 5 Nov lodged complaint with UNSC detailing alleged S Sudan support for rebels in S Kordofan, Blue Nile. Rebel JEM 23 Nov denied reports that S Sudan aiding leader Khalil Ibrahim. Talks between Khartoum and Juba reconvened 25 Nov; failed to reach agreement on critical issues of oil and financial arrangements. Petroleum Minister Ali Ahmed Osman 28 Nov announced S Sudan oil exports blocked until transit fee agreed; Foreign Ministry 29 Nov denied decision, following criticism by China. Clashes between SAF and rebels continued in S Kordofan, Blue Nile; SAF 3 Nov captured rebel stronghold Kurmuk, 22 Nov announced capture of Deim Mansour, Blue Nile. Amnesty International 12 Nov accused govt of arresting over 100 opposition activists, torturing many. Attack on Darfur peacekeepers near Nyala 8 Nov killed 1, wounded 2. Khartoum expelled Kenyan ambassador 29 Nov amid diplomatic row (see Kenya). Request to join EAC rejected 30 Nov due to objections over lack of democracy, women’s rights.
Amnesty International 1 Nov documented increased govt harassment, repression of critics; govt denied. Opposition leader Besigye’s supporters, bodyguards 1 Nov fought crowd at his home where he is under house arrest; party officials said mob hired by local police. Parliament 9 Nov discussed motion to suspend PM and internal affairs being investigated for corruption; Attorney Gen Nyombi 22 Nov said Parliament cannot force them to leave.
New PM Omer Beriziky 2 Nov took office as part of Sept political roadmap. Opposition 21 Nov split over new unity govt as 3 of 5 opposition party members rejected cabinet posts; 23 Nov accepted participation in govt, requested further SADC intervention in govt composition. Former President Ratsikara 24 Nov returned after 9 year exile.
Police 1 Nov allegedly fired tear gas into PM Tsvangirai’s MDC Harare HQ, blocked off building, attacked nearby street vendors; Tsvangirai 2 Nov expressed concern at rising political violence, accused police of being partisan. Tsvangirai 7 Nov blamed Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri for not intervening to protect MDC supporters from ZANU-PF attackers at 6 Nov rally in Chitungwiza, near Harare; Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) co-chair 9 Nov said investigating incident.
Former President Gbagbo transferred to ICC 29 Nov to face 4 counts of crimes against humanity. 2 killed 3 Nov in clashes between opposing ethnic groups in Pelezi and Bahe Sebon towns in West. 1 killed, 11 wounded 9 Nov in clash between Dozo traditional hunters supporting President Ouattara and Gouro ethnic group members. UN SRSG Bert Koenders 16 Nov said security, logistical challenges remain ahead of 11 Dec polls. Parliamentary vote list closed 21 Nov: 4 parties supporting Gbagbo put forward 20 candidates; Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) continued boycott, said some former members had registered as independents. Govt 23 Nov announced deployment of 25,000 security forces ahead of polls. Appeal court 9 Nov released 12 Gbagbo aides; 45 remain in jail.
President Jammeh secured 4th 5-year term in 24 Nov election with 72% of votes, extending 17-year rule. Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) rejected results; AU, Commonwealth observers hailed poll as transparent; ECOWAS declined to send observers, citing control of media, voter intimidation. 3 killed 22 Nov in Banjul clashes between Jammeh supporters and UDP demonstrators.
President Condé 15 Nov met opposition leaders, agreed to set up ad hoc commission to guide poll preparation, mentioned possible election postponement; overall little progress on dialogue following opposition’s creation of common front, reiteration of demands 22 Nov. Condé 17 Nov pardoned protesters condemned for participation in 27 Sept demonstration. Guinea Bar Association (GBA) filed complaint against Conakry governor Sékou Camara after 3 Nov arrest of president of rights NGO Foromo Frédéric Loua. Camara appeared in court 16 Nov following demonstration by GBA, 30 Nov declared guilty, fined. Govt 8 Nov issued decree banning all political demonstrations without prior official permission; 12 Nov revoked decree, allowing GBA march to go ahead.
UNSG Ban 3 Nov presented G-B periodical review to UNSC, insisted steps must be taken on SSR and impunity. Following Social Renewal Party’s Oct announcement of boycott of Jan National Peace and Reconciliation Conference, Republican Party for Independence and Development 26 Nov also announced intention to boycott. Govt 3 Nov said it was considering signing ICC Statute in attempt to open way for international investigation of recent criminal cases. Angolan FM Manuel Augusto 8 Nov said Angola’s military assistance mission in Guinea-Bissau (MISSANG/ GB) will stay for as long as needed; President Dos Santos 17 Nov admitted difficulties with ECOWAS regarding support for SSR in G-B. At late Nov meeting of Community of Portuguese language countries (CPLP) defence ministers in Cape Verde, G-B Defence Minister called for more financial support to SSR.
President Johnson-Sirleaf secured second 6-year term in 8 Nov run-off election with 90% of votes; turnout only 38%, vote boycotted by main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). At least 2 killed, several injured during clashes between CDC supporters and police on eve of election; Johnson-Sirleaf 14 Nov announced investigation into violence; national police chief sacked 26 Nov. Govt order to close 3 media outlets for broadcasting hate messages overturned 15 Nov by court. CDC leader Tubman 11 Nov said willing to work with President but 12 Nov called for annulment of election results, fresh elections. Unauthorised march by CDC supporters took place 21 Nov without violence despite govt warning and declaration by CDC chairperson Doe-Sheriff that protest not approved by party; Doe-Sheriff and 4 other CDC officials expelled from party 27 Nov, Doe-Sheriff home hit by petrol bombs 29 Nov. U.S. Congressmen Christopher Smith and Jesse Jackson 19-20 Nov warned of possible sanctions against political leaders seeking to undermine peace process; head of Reconciliation Commission Leymah Gboweeh 24 Nov criticised move.
Army Chief Pousiougou 21 Nov insisted on need for joint Mali, Algeria, Mauritania and Niger action against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) at meeting of country chiefs of staff. EU aid commissioner Piebalgs 23 Nov promised govt €62mn aid to improve security in north. 2 French citizens abducted 24 Nov by suspected AQIM gunmen in Hombori, first such kidnapping south of Niger river; 3 tourists kidnapped, 1 killed 25 Nov in Timbuktu.
At least 13 killed in 6 Nov clash between govt troops and armed group including Malian Tuaregs travelling from Libya to Mali; authorities claimed assault rifles, automatic weapons, RPGs recovered from group.
Over 150 people killed in series of attacks across Borno and Yobe states 4 Nov in Boko Haram’s most deadly operation since 2009; targeted churches, Yobe security services HQ. Further bomb attacks 26-27 Nov protesting arrest of sect members killed 4 policemen in Geidam, Yobe, also targeted churches, commerce, local govt. Police inspector killed 6 Nov by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Borno. Media reported group recruiting students, minors after 8 youths arrested in north. People’s Democratic Party Borno senator Ali Ndume charged 22 Nov with connections to Boko Haram following 3 Nov arrest of group spokesman Konduga; president of Civil Rights Congress Shehu Sani said arrest political ploy to justify govt spending on State Security Service, Kondunga no longer Boko Haram member. Boko Haram 15 Nov bombed convoy of Borno state governor Shettima in Maiduguri, day after Defence Minister Bello Mohammed claimed new security measures would end group’s activities. Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaqa 24 Nov said group had links with al-Qaeda; Algerian FM 13 Nov said intelligence reports show coordination between group and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. At least 45 killed in Plateau State in Fulani herdsmen attacks over alleged cattle theft.
Separatist rebels 21 Nov killed 10 civilians in Casamance. President Wade 9 Nov offered opposition rivals Dieng and Niasse cabinet positions in exchange for cooperation in Feb 2012 elections; both rejected offer.
ROK 23 Nov conducted large air and sea drills near Yŏnp’yŏng Island, attacked by DPRK Nov 2010; DPRK Supreme Command 24 Nov threatened to turn Seoul’s presidential palace into “sea of fire”. ROK taking some steps to improve inter-Korean relations: approved resumption of medical assistance to North via WHO, delivered children’s vaccines to North, announced suspension of balloon-drops of propaganda leaflets; unification minister Yu U-ik 5 Nov told UNSG Ban Seoul would consider resumption of humanitarian aid through UN. U.S. expressed concern after DPRK 10 Nov announced it would soon start operating new nuclear reactor. Foreign Ministry 30 Nov said DPRK making rapid progress on work to enrich uranium and build light-water nuclear power plant. ROK’s top nuclear envoy 15 Nov held talks with new U.S. envoy Glyn Davies in Vienna to discuss efforts to re-open 6-party talks; Seoul, Japan and U.S. demanding Pyongyang suspend uranium enrichment before talks can resume. Media mid-Nov reported DPRK conducting missile engine static tests, tested new anti-ship missile; has assisted Iran in developing nuclear bomb.
During first ministerial-level official visit to China by Taiwanese delegation 23 Nov, led by chairman of Financial Supervisory Commission, officials reached agreement on banking issues.
Setback for forthcoming Bonn talks on Afghanistan as Pakistan threatened to boycott after NATO/ISAF airstrikes (see Pakistan); attacks marked further deterioration in Afghan and U.S relations with Pakistan. Over 2,000 political elite attended loya jirga 16-20 Nov to discuss support for proposed U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership, negotiations with Taliban; meeting derided by Northern Alliance-dominated opposition and Taliban. Delegates 20 Nov endorsed negotiation of long-term security pact with U.S.; hundreds protested in streets 20 Nov against pact. Suspected suicide bomber shot dead, 2 arrested 14 Nov near site of loya jirga, hours after Taliban claimed to have published secret security plan for meeting, threatened to target participants. Deputy commander of NATO Training Mission resigned 4 Nov following comment that Afghan leaders “isolated from reality”. President Karzai 12 Nov met with Pakistani counterpart as part of ongoing efforts to repair relations. Suicide bomber targeting local tribal elder killed 7, wounded 15 in Baghlan province 6 Nov; roadside bomb 6 Nov killed district police chief and 2 bodyguards in Helmand province. At least 11 killed 7 Nov by roadside bomb in Badghis, NW. 12 personnel killed, 9 injured in Taliban attack on security firm in Farah province. 7 civilians including 6 children killed 23 Nov in NATO airstrike, and at least 10 Taliban militants reportedly killed 28 Nov in joint Afghan-NATO military operation in Kandahar. 3 policemen killed 30 Nov by roadside bomb in Baghlan; 7 Pakistani workers kidnapped 30 Nov near Kabul.
Trial began 20 Nov of Delwar Sayedee, lead Jamaat-e-Islami politician, marking first trial for war crimes during 1971 war; similar charges filed 14 Nov against senior opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Chowdhury. Court 15 Nov charged rebel United Liberation Front of Assam military wing leader Paresh Baruah and 10 others including 2 former BNP govt ministers and 2 former senior intelligence officials with involvement in 2004 arms haul.
Govt said senior Maoist rebel Koteshwar Rao killed 24 Nov in gunfight in W Midnapore; Communist Party leader Gurudas Dasgupta and rights group said Rao assassinated. Suicide bomber died 30 Nov in Manipur blast, Kangleipak Communist Party militants suspected. Court 9 Nov convicted 31 people of killing dozens of Muslims during 2002 Gujarat riots, sentenced to life prison.
Dispute between Kashmir state govt and army over partial revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives army wide law-enforcement powers and shields soldiers from prosecution, continued; India Kashmir chief minister Abdullah 2 Nov said he will consult with army, top ministers before making decision. Hurriyat Conference chairman Geelani 17 Nov said India showing “traditional inflexibility” over revocation of AFSPA. Several injured 7 Nov in clashes between police and demonstrators in Anantnag and Sopore. Following protests and police intervention, Army 22 Nov released 3 civilians arrested during crackdown in Anantnag district. Strike 25 Nov to protest continued detention and torture of political prisoners, minors, resulted in clashes in Srinagar and Maraj.
Leaders of 4 main parties 1 Nov agreed to integrate one third of former Maoist rebels into army, give money to others, removing major stumbling block to constitution writing. Constituent Assembly term extended 29 Nov; state restructuring commission formed, though decisions expected to be politically motivated. Supreme Court 23 Nov opposed Cabinet recommendation for pardon for Maoist MP Bal Krishna Dhungel. 22 Nov bomb attack on Christian NGO United Mission to Nepal and 28 Nov bomb attempt on Kathmandu church by Hindu fundamentalist group sparked fears for security of religious minorities.
Pakistan-U.S. relations severely damaged by NATO/ ISAF attack on 2 Pakistan military border outposts 26 Nov that killed 24 soldiers; govt condemned attack, protested use of Afghan base, shut down key NATO supply routes, asked NATO to vacate airbase in Balochistan, 29 Nov decided to boycott 5 Dec Bonn conference. Attack prompted protests 28 Nov; director general of military operations 30 Nov said attack deliberate, blatant act of aggression. Ambassador to U.S. Haqqani 22 Nov resigned after alleged involvement in memo accusing Pakistani military of plotting coup in May; denies involvement. N Waziristan-based militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahdur 12 Nov threatened to abandon 2007 unofficial peace deal with military, citing drone strikes and Pakistani army shelling, prompting fears of escalated violence in region. Drone strike on suspected militant base in Waziristan near Afghan border 16 Nov reportedly killed at least 16; 7 killed 17 Nov in drone strike in Shawal valley, N Waziristan. Senior Pakistani Taliban commander 21 Nov said group declared ceasefire, halted attacks around country in support of govt peace talks; refuted by Taliban spokesman 23 Nov. At least 14 soldiers killed, 10 injured 21 Nov in ambush by separatist rebels in Balochistan. Attack on police station 23 Nov killed 2, wounded 7 in Darbaan Kalan near sectarian flashpoint Dera Ismail Kahn. Over 19 militants reportedly killed 23 Nov in Central Kurram Agency in govt helicopter attack on hideouts; over 90 reportedly killed in preceding days. Antiterrorism court 5 Nov indicted 5 militants, 2 police in 2007 assassination of PM Bhutto. PM Gilani 11 Nov met with Afghanistan President Karzai, agreed to cooperate further on regional security and stability, but peace prospects undermined by NATO/ISAF attack.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa 20 Nov received final report of govt’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, promised eventual publication. Sec Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa 24 Nov announced unpublished govt count of civilian dead in final months of civil war, claiming very few killed by govt forces; acknowledged for first time some soldiers may have committed crimes, promised investigation. Former army chief and presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka, in prison following two courts martial convictions, sentenced 18 Nov to additional 3 years for making “false statement” that Sec Defence Rajapaksa ordered May 2009 execution of surrendering LTTE leaders. UN committee against torture 25 Nov published conclusions expressing concern over “consistent allegations of widespread use of torture” and “prevailing climate of impunity”. Govt 5 Nov announced new regulations requiring all news website to register; followed action blocking widely-read websites critical of govt.
Violence continued in Papua. President Yudhoyono 9 Nov installed head of long-awaited Papua policy unit UP4B; said open to dialogue if Papuans accept republic of Indonesia special autonomy as defined in 2001 law, and focus on accelerated development. Large pro-independence march in Jayapura 14 Nov. Continued violence along road leading to Freeport mine in Timika, with 7 deaths in 8 shooting incidents targeting soldiers, police and Freeport contractors since 14 Oct. Strike by miners entered 3rd month, amid major sabotage of mine pipeline in full view of unresponsive police. Aceh elections scheduled for 10 Nov postponed until 16 Feb 2012; Partai Aceh still planning to boycott polls. Several more members of Darul Islam faction Abu Umar group arrested 12-15 Nov, involved in smuggling arms from Mindanao. Brief flare-up of violence in Ambon, with explosion of small pipe bomb 19 Nov, and several police posts attacked 20 Nov after funeral of man reportedly tortured to death in police custody. Ongoing local disputes between palm plantations and local farmers in West Sumatra and Lampung, where 1 resident killed 10 Nov by police gunfire.
Major political development marked by return of Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) to political process, decision by ASSK and other NLD leaders to contest seats in upcoming by-elections; 18 Nov confirmation that Myanmar to chair ASEAN in 2014 also reflection of positive changes in recent months, amid hopes it will drive further reform. Flurry of diplomatic visits to Myanmar, including U.S. Myanmar envoy Derek Mitchell in 3rd visit 2-4 Nov, UN Special Envoy Vijay Nambiar, Norwegian and UK development ministers, German Deputy FM. U.S. Sec State Clinton commenced visit to Myanmar 30 Nov, first such visit for over 50 years; UNSG Ban announced intention to visit as soon as possible. Chinese VP Xi Jinping 28 Nov called for increased military ties. President Thein Sein 4 Nov signed amendments to political party registration law, addressing concerns of opposition NLD. NLD 18 Nov announced intention to register as legal political party, submitted application 25 Nov. Parliament 24 Nov passed bill allowing peaceful protests. Situation surrounding ethnic conflict remains tense, however some progress in president’s peace initiative. Karen armed group Kloh Htoo Baw 3 Nov announced it had signed ceasefire with govt. Series of meetings in Thailand between presidential envoy and several armed groups; Shan State Army-South 19 Nov said agreement on ceasefire reached, said envoy conveyed commitment to holding national conference on political solutions to ethnic divisions. Some other armed groups agreed to sign ceasefires in near future. Fighting continued in Kachin areas between KIO, govt forces. KIO delegation met with presidential envoy, held further talks in China 29 Nov.
Govt and MILF 3 Nov held one-day session in Kuala Lampur, in first meeting since MILF rejected govt draft proposal in Aug. No joint statement, but sides committed to meeting again soon, tentatively in early Dec. Clashes between military and MILF in Basilan and Zamboanga Sibugay in Oct being investigated by Malaysian-led international monitoring team. 3 Nov clash left at least 2 MILF members dead, 3 govt militiamen injured in Tulunan town, North Cotabato. Breakaway MILF commander Kato rumoured to have suffered a stroke 24 Nov; conflicting reports as to whether he is alive. Govt troops 6 Nov clashed with suspected NPA rebels in south, 1 soldier dead, 4 wounded; 6 soldiers wounded 7 Nov by suspected Abu Sayyaf landmine in Basilan. Tensions with China over disputed Spratly Islands in South China Sea increased as Philippines promoted plan for oil, gas exploration in region. U.S. Sec State Clinton 15-16 Nov visited Philippines prior to East Asia Summit, declared commitment to rules-based approach to resolving competing maritime claims, freedom of navigation; pledged to provide second warship to Philippines navy.
Parliament 25 Nov passed $1.7bn 2012 budget, almost half intended for Infrastructure Fund in line with strategic development plan; state budget has increased 381% over 4 years. Hopes for quick ASEAN accession dimmed 17 Nov with announcement that ASEAN FMs had agreed to refer issue to new working group to examine country’s readiness.
Death toll from recent flooding reached 666 people; cabinet 8 Nov approved 2 committees for post-flood recovery. Cabinet 15 Nov held secret discussion on draft royal decree to give pardons for some prisoners for King’s birthday; move seen to benefit former PM Thaksin, sentenced in absentia to 2 years prison for corruption; Justice Minister 20 Nov denied possibility of pardon for exiled leader. Implementation of ICJ’s July order for Thailand and Cambodia to withdraw troops from disputed border area delayed by flooding and legal debate over need for parliamentary approval. In south, suspected insurgents in uniform 17 Nov opened fire at military-escorted convoy of govt school teachers in Ruesoh district, Narathiwat, injuring 4. 21 Nov bomb in Pattani’s Muang district injured 9 people.
Adoption of cross-party consensus in Parliament 17 Nov as lawmakers approved creation of parliamentary commission for electoral reform and passed 2 laws. Followed agreement by ruling DP party and opposition SP 15 Nov on pact addressing major European Commission progress priorities. Move welcomed by EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele as bringing end to 2-year political stalemate, however several issues remain unresolved. Follows Oct European Commission assessment that Albania failed to meet political criteria needed to attain EU candidate status.
13 months after general elections, leaders of 6 main parties again failed to agree on formation of state govt at 17 Nov meeting in Sarajevo and 27 Nov constitutional reform meeting in Italy; main obstacle still dispute between Federation of BiH parties over seats in Council of Ministers. Republika Srpska president Dodik called for future constitution to include mechanism for “peaceful disassociation”. Prospects of meeting Dec deadline to adopt key laws and reforms for progress on EU membership deemed increasingly unlikely, while failure to adopt budget and fiscal framework raising concerns. High Representative Valentin Inzko 15 Nov told UNSC country stagnating due to failure to form govt, adopt budget. 3 more arrests following 28 Oct attack on U.S. embassy.
Increasing fears over tensions and outbreaks of violence in north Kosovo, as Serbs continue to barricade customs gates with Serbia against Kosovo customs officials. 1 Serb shot dead, 2 wounded including 1 Kosovo Police officer, in clash between ethnic Serbs and Albanians in Brdjani, N Mitrovica 9 Nov. KFOR troops 9 Nov used tear gas against 2 trucks trying to drive into checkpoint near Jarinje, 23 Nov clashed with hundreds of Serbs after attempt to dismantle Serb roadblock in Rudare; 21 KFOR soldiers injured before withdrawing, along with unknown number of Serbs. Dozens of Serbs injured 28 Nov as Serbs tried to prevent KFOR dismantling barricade at Jagnjenica; 25 KFOR troops also injured, including 2 by small-arms fire. KFOR commander Gen Erhard Drews 26 Nov warned over possible escalation of violence. Serbian President Tadic 29 Nov called on Serbs to leave barricades. Serbian interior minister Ivica Dacic 24 Nov said Serbia should be ready for war over north, drawing condemnation from EU, Pristina. Belgrade 18 Nov adopted decree putting in force civil registry agreement agreed in Pristina-Belgrade dialogue. EU-facilitated talks aimed at normalising relations between Belgrade and Pristina resumed at 7th round 21-22 Nov after 2-month hiatus. Sides agreed to accept each other’s higher education qualifications and agreed to return to issue of Kosovo’s participation in regional fora at next meeting. No deal on EU-proposed compromise solution for control of Kosovo-Serbia border. 8th round opened 30 Nov.
Ahead of May 2012 parliamentary elections and 2013 presidential elections, former president Kocharian indicated possible intent to return to politics. Parliament 1 Nov approved increase in 2012 military budget to $400mn. Armenia signed cooperation plan with Collective Security Treaty Organisation to promote military ties. Armenian and Turkish business leaders meeting in Yeveran 22 Nov called for opening of border.
Parliament 15 Nov passed amendments to criminal and administrative codes increasing state controls on religious activity, including on distribution of unsanctioned religious literature, “forced” religious activity, religious rituals. Amnesty International 16 Nov called for international community pressure on govt over crackdown on activists, opposition figures. Police arrested 5 activists in small protest 15 Nov. Prominent journalist Rafiq Tagi stabbed by unknown attacker 19 Nov, died of injuries.
Flaring tensions in breakaway republic South Ossetia after its Supreme Court 29 Nov annulled 27 Nov second round vote for de facto president, in which opposition candidate Alla Dzhioeva took surprise lead over Kremlin-backed Anatoly Bibilov in unofficial results, citing electoral violations. Parliament barred Dzhioeva from running in rescheduled elections March 2012. Dzhioeva supporters challenged legality of court ruling, hundreds protested outside Central Election Commission 30 Nov; security personnel fired shots into air. Following Georgian and Russian acceptance of proposal unblocking Russia’s entry into WTO, sides signed agreement 9 Nov. In largely symbolic victory for Tbilisi, European Parliament 17 Nov adopted resolution on EU’s Association Agreement with Georgia, referring to Abkhazia and South Ossetia (SO) as “occupied”, calling on EU to formally recognise them as such, calling Russia “occupying force”. Billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose citizenship was revoked Oct following his announcement of intention to enter politics ahead of 2012 parliamentary elections, 1 Nov said he would appeal to President Saakashvili for restoration of citizenship.
Following deaths of 2 Armenian soldiers in separate clashes with Azerbaijani forces in N-K, Armenian military 21 Nov pledged to respond “disproportionately”; threatened “punitive actions”. Karabakh Defence Army accused Azerbaijan of violating ceasefire to sabotage diplomatic efforts to resolve conflict. Following failure of Russia-brokered June summit between Armenian and Azerbaijan presidents, Baku saying time to look at alternatives to 17-year old OSCE “Minsk Group” process. Armenian FM Minsk Group should remain key international body mediating N-K peace talks; comments follow Azerbaijan’s election to UNSC seat and reported intention to use membership to advance favourable solution to conflict.
Several hundred people protested in Dagestan capital Makhachkala against enforced disappearances 21 Nov; over 2,000 protested 25 Nov. Numerous violent incidents in Dagestan, including 2 military killed and 3 injured, 1 fighter killed; 2 fighters killed in Kaspijsk town 1 Nov; head of Chuvek village killed 2 Nov; 1 fighter killed in Makhachkala 7 Nov; deputy Imam of Mutsaul shot dead by insurgents 12 Nov. Mass arrests of Salafi Muslims in Shamkhal village. FSB lifted counterterror restrictions in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Elbrus and Baksan districts, imposed Feb 2011. In Nalchik 3 militants killed 21 Nov, 2 police killed 14 Nov; 1 police killed in Tyrnyauz 13 Nov. 1 suspected militant killed in Ingushetia 19 Nov, 3 policeman wounded near Chechen border 2 Nov. Chechen businessman and poet shot dead in Moscow 15 Nov by unknown assailant. Warlord Doku Umarov 20 Nov posted online statement threatening Turkey with retaliation over Sept murder of 3 Chechens in Istanbul. Russian nationalists organized biggest “Russian March” protest rallies to mark 4 Nov Unity Day; several thousand joined anti-govt, anti-Caucasus protest in Moscow. Several hundred ethnic Russians also took part in marches in N Caucasus.
Rights activist Ales Byalyatski jailed for 4.5 years 24 Nov for tax evasion. Opposition activist jailed for 10 days 3 Nov for participating in unsanctioned Oct rally. President Lukashenka signed economic union agreement with Russia and Kazakhstan; Russian president Putin 25 Nov said would cut price of Russian gas for Belarus, reportedly in exchange for full ownership of Belarusian gas transport network. UN Committee against Torture 25 Nov expressed concern over “allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment of detainees”.
Talks between Moldovan and Transdniestran officials, stalled for 5 years, re-opened in Lithuania 30 Nov, under auspices of OSCE; Russian, Ukrainian, U.S, EU officials also involved.
Prosecutors 11 Nov filed new charges against jailed former PM Tymoshenko, related to tax evasion, theft, concealing foreign currency. Russian and European leaders 8 Nov celebrated opening of Nord Stream natural gas pipeline, allowing transit of Russian gas directly to Western Europe, bypassing Ukraine and Belarus.
Following Oct ceasefire declaration , ETA 10 Nov announced would be willing to discuss giving up weapons. Basque separatist party Amaiur won 7 parliamentary seats in 20 Nov general election.
UNSG Ban’s end-Oct talks with Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders described as “positive”, though leaders failed to announce any convergences, agreements. Ban said expects internal aspects of Cyprus problem to be solved by Jan, move to multilateral conference soon after. Greek Cypriot media 15 Nov reported leaders agreed to meet once or twice a week until Jan, UN also to hold talks with negotiating teams. Regional tensions over Cyprus’ gas exploration in East Mediterranean remain high: Turkish petroleum corporation (TPAO) 2 Nov signed oil field services and production agreement with Turkish Cypriot administration; Turkish energy minister 15 Nov announced TPAO would also sign deal with Shell to search for reserves off Antalya, said Turkey moving strategic weight from Black Sea to Mediterranean. U.S. firm conducting exploratory drilling off Cyprus coast reported field may yield 3-9 trillion cubic feet of gas, below previous estimates. Turkish PM Erdoğan 11 Nov announced Turkey will be able supply water to Turkish Cypriot north by March 2014; Deputy PM Atalay 15 Nov added Turkey ready to share water with Greek Cypriots following settlement.
Ongoing military operations in SE against PKK militants. Scores arrested for suspected PKK-links throughout month, including 47 lawyers of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and members of pro-Kurdish BDP party. Kurdish militant killed by commandos 11 Nov after hijacking ferry with 18 passengers on Sea of Marmara. Turkish diplomatic missions in Syria attacked 12 Nov by pro-Assad crowds; President Gül 14 Nov called attacks unacceptable, warned of measures. Govt 15 Nov cancelled oil exploration plans with Syria in Mediterranean; threatened then pulled back from cutting off electricity supplies. 2 Turkish pilgrims reported injured 21 Nov by gunmen in northern Syria. PM Erdoğan 22 Nov called for Syrian President Assad to step down; 30 Nov announced sanctions on regime. 15 detained 22 Nov for suspected al-Qaeda links in central Anatolian city of Konya. Second earthquake 9 Nov struck southeastern city of Van , killed around 40, after more than 600 killed in 23 Oct earthquake.
Further concerns over security as terrorist attacks continued. Previously unknown Islamist group Jund al-Khilafah claimed responsibility for 31 Oct bombings in western city Atyrau; Atyrau prosecutor’s office 7 Nov announced detention of 3 Jund al-Khilafah members. 2 police officers shot dead 8 Nov in Almaty by unidentified assailants. Suspected Islamist 12 Nov killed 7 people, including 5 security forces, then shot himself in southern city Taraz. Jund al-Khilafah claimed responsibility; 6 suspected group members including leader arrested 30 Nov. U.S. embassy 18 Nov confirmed Peace Corps volunteers to leave country due to insecurity. President Nazarbaev 16 Nov dissolved lower house of parliament, called early parliamentary elections for mid Jan, after 53 out of 107 MPs called for body to be dissolved, replaced with multiparty legislature. Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan 18 Nov signed economic union agreement in Moscow.
Central election committee 12 Nov officially declared former PM Atambaev winner of 30 Oct presidential election with 62.5% of vote. Despite threats by opponents Adakhan Madumarov and Kamchybek Tashiev to contest results, 2 Nov rallies in southern cities Jalal-Abad and Osh calling for new vote sparsely attended; Tashiev 4 Nov called on supporters to end protests. Outgoing President Otunbaeva 30 Nov apologised for failure to prevent 2010 deadly ethnic clashes. Fugitive ethnic Uzbek leader Kadyrjan Batyrov sentenced in absentia by Jalal-Abad court 28 Oct to life in prison on charges of separatist propaganda, inciting interethnic hatred, organising clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz.
Tensions with Russia rose after Tajik court 8 Nov sentenced 2 pilots working for Russian aviation company to 8.5 years prison for border violations, smuggling; Russian Foreign Ministry said verdict “politically charged”, warned it could harm relations. Russia 14 Nov announced possible ban on Tajik labor migrants in Russia and initiated round-up, deportations; 21 Nov threatened to impose sanctions on vegetable imports from Tajikistan. Tajik court released pilots 22 Nov. Tajik border guards 13 Nov killed Uzbek border guard; Tashkent accused Tajik guards of attempting to assist drug traffickers Uzbeks were trying to detain. Court in northern Sughd province 3 Nov sentenced 3 people to 8-9 years prison for membership in Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Supreme Court 11 Nov sentenced 28 people to jail, including 7 life sentences, for supporting IMU-affiliated terrorist group led by Abdullo Rahimov, killed in April.
German FM Guido Westerwelle 17 Nov visited Turkmenistan, met with President Burdymukhamedov, discussed political, economic issues, regional security, Afghanistan, rights. Gold-plated statue of former President Niyazov, removed in 2010, reinstalled 31 Oct on outskirts of Ashgabat.
17 Nov explosion on railroad on Afghan border used by U.S. Northern Distribution Network, believed to be terrorist attack.
After 3 years of frozen diplomatic relations, Bolivia and U.S. 7 Nov agreed on framework document setting out principles for future relations; does not specify time frame for return of ambassadors; President Morales ruled out return of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Colombian military 4 Nov scored major victory against FARC, killing commander-in-chief Guillermo León Sáenz, alias “Alfonso Cano” in Cauca department. FARC refused govt’s call for guerrillas to demobilise, but indicated possibility of talks still open. FARC appointed Rodrigo Londoño alias “Timochenko”, known to be politically orthodox, as successor. President Santos 21 Nov said he trusted Venezuelan President Chávez to arrest FARC leader if found on Venezuelan soil. Santos 28 Nov met Chávez in Caracas, discussed FARC, trade issues (see Venezuela). Police 30 Nov arrested 3 FARC members believed involved in Sept kidnapping of Fortul mayor’s daughter. Bomb explosion in SE city Toribio 12 Nov injured 10, including mayor; FARC believed responsible. 4 police officers held hostage by FARC for over a decade killed by guerrilla 26 Nov during failed rescue attempt; 1 escaped.
Andean Community of Nations leaders met in Bogota 8 Nov, committed to revitalize organization, following Ecuador’s Oct threat to withdraw over trade dispute with Colombia. Following complaints over alleged violations of freedom of expression, Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IAHCR) 8 Nov asked attorney general’s office for information on libel case against El Universo newspaper; President Correa accused IACHR of abusing of its functions. Correa 10 Nov replaced 15 ministers in major cabinet reshuffle.
Capture of major Colombian drug trafficker Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco alias “Valenciano” 28 Nov preceded meeting between President Chávez and Colombian president Santos in Caracas. Presidents made new commitments on trade, energy; Chávez confirmed commitment to fight any illegal armed groups on Venezuelan territory. 6 candidates registered to participate in Feb 2012 primary presidential elections. In response to rising insecurity President Chávez mid-Nov placed thousands of National Guard troops onto streets of Caracas and 2 neighbouring states, Vargas and Miranda. Major league baseball player and Chilean Consul briefly kidnapped 9 and 11 Nov respectively.
Electoral tribunal declared retired general Otto Pérez Molina winner of 6 Nov presidential run-off with 53.74% of votes, ahead of businessman Manuel Baldizón with 46.6%. Outgoing president Álvaro Colom 15 Nov approved extradition of former president Alfonso Portillo to U. S. on money laundering charges.
Increased political uncertainty as tensions continued in parliament over 27 Oct arrest of MP Arnel Bélizaire. Justice Minister Josué Pierre-Louis resigned 22 Nov; PM Conille and Interior Minister Thierry Mayard-Paul avoided confidence vote 23 Nov. Senator Moïse Jean-Charles demanded action be taken against President Martelly over case; Martelly denies involvement, 23 Nov wrote letter to Haitian people calling for peace and reconciliation. Martelly 18 Nov postponed publication of controversial decree to reinstate national army, announced creation of special commission to plan army reconstitution. Continued concerns over insecurity; National Coalition of Haitian Rights 15 Nov reported 98 killed, hundreds injured in gun violence since 1 Oct; victims include advisor to national palace, police officers. 7 injured by gunfire 28 Nov during violent demonstration in Cité Soleil calling for departure of city council head.
Continued violence as 8 bodies found early Nov in Veracruz, 3 police officers killed 21 Nov near U.S. border, 50 suspected cartel members found dead 23-24 Nov in Culiacan, Guadalajara. In blow to govt anti-drug campaign Interior Secretary Francisco Blake Mora killed 11 Nov in helicopter accident, anti-violence activist Nepomuceno Moreno killed 28 Nov in Sonora. 2006 election runner-up Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced intention to present candidacy for July 2012 presidential poll. Governing party 13 Nov lost Michoacán gubernatorial election to Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) amid charges cartels used violence, intimidation to influence results. Govt reported several high-level cartel arrests, including 10 Nov capture of Ovidio Limon Sanchez, senior Sinaloa cartel leader.
PA President Abbas and Hamas politburo head Meshal met 24 Nov in Cairo for first time since 4 May reconciliation agreement, reportedly agreed to hold elections 4 May but failed to resolve differences over interim unity govt. In protest at Palestine’s 31 Oct admission to UNESCO Israel froze transfers of tax and customs revenues to PA for 4 weeks; pushing PA to brink of financial collapse according to PA PM Fayyad. Israeli govt 1 Nov announced it would accelerate construction of 2,000 housing units in contested areas of E Jerusalem and 2 West Bank settlements. UNSC Membership Committee 11 Nov report showed no majority on Palestinian full membership. Quartet representatives 14 Nov met separately with Israel and PLO counterparts; no progress. Israeli Defence Minister Barak 20 Nov warned Iran less than 1 year away from producing nuclear weapon (see Iran). Intermittent violence along Gaza border including 2 Palestinians killed 3 Nov by IDF following sniper attack; Israeli airstrike killed Islamic Jihad militant 5 Nov; Palestinian police officer killed 14 Nov in air strike following rocket attack. Rockets fired 28 Nov from southern Lebanon struck N Israel, first since 2009, IDF responded with artillery fire.
King Abdullah 14 Nov suggested Syrian President Assad step down. Muslim Brotherhood 18 Nov joined opposition protests for first time, called for release of 100 Salafi activists. Abdullah 21 Nov visited West Bank for first time in 10 years, met PA President Abbas.
PM Mikati 30 Nov announced payment of Lebanon’s share of funds for UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL); 25 Nov threatened to resign if cabinet refused to pay. Govt voted against Arab League (AL) 12 Nov decision to suspend Syria; “disassociated” itself from 27 Nov AL sanctions. U.S. Treasury official 10 Nov visited Beirut to warn Lebanese banks risk being blacklisted if Syria attempts to use them to avoid sanctions. 2 bombs exploded 17 Nov in Christian community in southern Tyre; no immediate claim of responsibility. Rockets fired 28 Nov from southern Lebanon into Israel; obscure Islamist group Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility.
Fears of escalation in violence as month saw failed Arab League attempt to end bloodshed, accelerated militarisation of protest movement, internationalisation of conflict. UN reported some 3,500 killed in crackdown on ongoing anti-regime protests. Authorities blamed violence on foreign-backed armed groups, said killed some 1,100 soldiers and police. Opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) 7 Nov called for international intervention in security forces siege of central city Homs, called it “humanitarian disaster area”. Arab League 12 Nov voted to suspend Syria after it failed to implement 2 Nov deal to end bloodshed and withdraw forces from cities; Russian FM Lavrov called suspension ploy by West to destabilise Syria. Pro-Assad crowds 12 Nov attacked Saudi Arabian embassy, French and Turkish consulates. President Assad 20 Nov said parliamentary elections would be held early-2012 ahead of new constitution including provisions for presidential elections; govt said over 2,000 political prisoners released in month. UNGA 22 Nov adopted non-binding resolution condemning Syria’s actions. French FM Juppe 23 Nov said France seeking international recognition for SNC at UN. UNHRC published report 28 Nov accused regime of systematic murder, torture and rape. Escalating attacks by Free Syrian Army, made up of army defectors, including killing of 8 soldiers in 26 Nov ambush in Idlib. Arab League 27 Nov agreed economic sanctions against regime; Turkey 30 Nov imposed financial sanctions.
Govt-commissioned panel 23 Nov found that security forces used excessive force including torture to suppress pro-democracy protests in which 35 people died. King Hamad pledged national commission to steer reforms; head of main Shiite opposition party al-Wefaq said govt responsible for abuses not fit to implement report’s recommendations. Report also dismissed govt’s accusation of Iranian involvement in fomenting unrest. Regular pro-democracy protests continued; hours before publication of report 1 man killed as police dispersed protesters in Manana. Security forces clashed with protesters 24 Nov at funeral in Manama. Authorities 21 Nov said 20 members of security forces charged with alleged abuse of protesters. Police clashed with protesters 19 Nov at memorial for teenager killed by police car in Sitra town. King Hamad 29 Nov dismissed National Security Agency head Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah, member of ruling Al Khalifa family.
IAEA report 8 Nov said Iran appeared to have worked on designing an atomic bomb, may still be conducting secret research. President Ahmadinejad 9 Nov denied report, vowed not to retreat “one iota” on nuclear program. U.S., Britain and Canada 21 Nov announced new sanctions on financial and energy sectors to pressure Tehran to halt nuclear program; Russia dismissed sanctions as “unacceptable”, would damage chances for renewing negotiations. UK embassy stormed 29 Nov by protesters after announcement of unilateral British sanctions; all Iranian diplomats expelled from UK.
U.S. military official 15 Nov said troops will remain in Iraq as military trainers after year-end withdrawal; radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr 3 Nov said he would resist any U.S. presence beyond year-end, including civilian one. Regular bombings continued across country including 19 people killed, 64 injured 24 Nov in series of bombings in Basra. Governor of Anbar province 7 Nov survived assassination attempt just outside Baghdad. Govt 22 Nov said it would sanction U.S. oil company Exxon Mobil for signing “illegal” exploration deal 13 Nov with Kurdistan regional govt. Iraq abstained from 12 Nov Arab League vote to suspend Syria, and 27 Nov sanctions; FM Zebari denied accusations of Iranian pressure on vote. 16 al-Qaeda members convicted of involvement in massacre of 70 people at 2006 wedding executed.
4 Shiite Muslims killed 20-21 Nov by “stray” police bullets during demonstrations in Eastern Province. Officials 13 Nov condemned Syrian regime after pro-Assad reporters attacked embassy in Damascus.
After 10 months of mass protest President Saleh 23 Nov signed political transition agreement based on GCC-initiative, immediately transferring power to implement accord to deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi; Saleh will retain title of president until 21 Feb presidential elections; opposition leader Mohammed Basindwa named 27 Nov as interim PM. Despite signing of power transfer, tens killed in fighting between Saleh’s forces and those loyal to opposition continued in Sanaa, Arhab and Taiz. At least 25 killed 26-27 Nov in fighting between Shiite Huthi rebels and Sunni Islamists in north. Battles continue to rage between govt forces and local tribesmen and al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula-linked militants in southern Abyan province.
At least 6 suspected Islamists killed 23 Nov by security forces in eastern Ergo Mountains. 5 suspects linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) arrested over Oct kidnapping of 3 humanitarian workers.
First parliamentary elections since ouster of President Mubarak began 28 Nov. High turnout for first round despite clashes 19-23 Nov between protesters demanding end of army rule and police in Cairo and other cities. At least 41 killed, over 2,000 injured; truce agreed 24 Nov negotiated by Muslim clerics. Cabinet resigned 21 Nov over violent crackdown on protests; Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) 24 Nov named Kamal al-Ganzouri as new PM. Head of SCAF Field Marshal Tantawi 22 Nov promised civilian president will be elected June 2012, 6 months sooner than planned. Supreme administrative court 18 Nov ruled former members of Mubarak’s NDP party may run in parliamentary elections. 29 injured in 17 Nov clashes with residents during Coptic Christian march in Cairo commemorating 9 Oct clashes with security forces.
Muammar Qadhafi son Saif al-Islam captured 19 Nov near Niger border; followed by 20 Nov capture of Qadhafi intelligence chief Abdallah Senoussi. Uncertainty over where his trial for war crimes to take place resolved after ICC prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo 24 Nov announced it would be in Libya. PM Abdurrahim El-Keib 23 Nov announced new govt. UN report 24 Nov stated Libya’s former rebels are holding 7,000 detainees, highlighted reports of war crimes committed by rebels and former govt forces in Sirte; Interior Minister Fawzy Abdul-Ali acknowledged abuses occurred, said new govt trying to eliminate them. Concerns over activities of local militias outside capital; 7 dead in 12-13 Nov clashes between rival factions near Zawiya town. 7 dead in 23 Nov clashes in Bani Walid between govt troops and Qadhafi loyalists.
French FM Juppe 15 Nov said Mauritanian forces averted terrorist attack based on French intelligence; no specific details revealed. Govt 20 Nov approved 2 new TV stations and 5 radio channels following Sept announcement of media liberalisation.
Moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) won 107 of 395 seats in 25 Nov parliamentary election, first under new constitution; PJD will head coalition govt for first time. King Mohamed VI named PJD head Abdelilah Benkirane new PM. Roughly 15,000 demonstrated 20 Nov in major cities calling for boycott of elections. Growing budget deficit reached 25bn dirhams mid-month. Ambassador to Syria recalled 16 Nov after embassy in Damascus attacked by pro-Assad crowds.
Country saw formation of new govt following historic 23 Oct election. Final poll results announced 14 Nov; moderate Islamist An-Nahda party won 41% of vote, 89 out of 217 Constituent Assembly (CA) seats; left-leaning Congress for the Republic (CPR) led by prominent rights activist Moncef Marzouki 29 seats; populist Popular Petition party led by former Islamist militant 26 seats; liberal socialist Ettakatol 20 seats. New CA inaugurated 22 Nov; 3 main parties formalised power-sharing agreement same day: Hamadi Jebali of An-Nahda to be PM, CPR and Ettakatol holding largely ceremonial Presidency and Speaker of Parliament posts. Military court 30 Nov found ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and several of his senior officials guilty in absentia of torture. Continued concerns over post-election unrest in South and West; thousands-strong peaceful demonstration in Kasserine turned violent 23 Nov, riots in Gafsa region 24 Nov as protestors attacked govt building, authorities declared curfew. Hundreds of demonstrators clashed with students at Manouba University 28-29 Nov over wearing of veil by female students. Interim President Fouad Mebazza 29 Nov signed decree extending state of emergency. Authorities 1 Nov issued international arrest warrant for Suha Arafat, widow of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, as part of corruption probe into Tunisia’s former first family. Govt 8 Nov approved extradition of former Libya PM Baghdadi al-Mahmudi.
UN Western Sahara Envoy Christopher Ross toured capitals of countries included in so-called “Group of Friends of Western Sahara” in attempt to solve deadlocked talks between Polisario Front and Morocco.