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
Deadly clashes between government forces and the insurgent Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) broke out in the troubled southern Philippines in October. On 24-25 October the army bombed a MILF area for the first time since peace talks broke down in 2008, causing over 10,000 inhabitants to flee. Earlier in the month, nineteen soldiers were killed in a botched operation to arrest a MILF fighter. The MILF argued that attacks on its bases violate the ceasefire; the military claimed to be acting against criminals. Both sides reiterated their commitment to long-running peace talks but the process has been stalled since the last round of negotiations in August.
Basque Country (Spain)LibyaTunisia
Violence increased again in Yemen, on the verge of full-scale civil war between security forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and opposition forces. On 15 October security forces and Saleh supporters fired live rounds on protesters in Sanaa. Dozens of protesters died in the worst fighting since Saleh’s return from Saudi Arabia in September. On 21 October a UN Security Council resolution condemned the violence and called for a transition based on the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative.
Deadly clashes pitting Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government forces and allied militias against al-Shabaab rebels intensified throughout the month, leaving many dead. A suicide bomb in the capital Mogadishu on 4 October killed over 100 people, marking the deadliest al-Shabaab attack since the 2010 Kampala bombings. On 20 October al-Shabaab displayed what it claimed were the bodies of over 70 African Union soldiers it had killed in the preceding days.
Al-Shabaab also carried out attacks in neighbouring Kenya in response to the entry in mid-October of Kenyan troops into Somalia. The Kenyan military operation aims to drive back al-Shabaab from the border and capture the strategic port of Kismayo. Grenade explosions in Nairobi on 24 October killed one person and injured at least 20. An al-Shabaab attack on 27 October on a bus near the Somali border killed eight. A severe clampdown on suspected al-Shabaab supporters in Kenya accompanied the military operation in Somalia.
Tunisia’s historic elections for the Constituent Assembly on 23 October saw the moderate Islamist An-Nahda Party win 90 of 217 seats. Despite fears of violence before and after voting, the poll was praised by observers as clean and well-run. Economic, social and security conditions continue to worsen in the interior, however, particularly along the Libyan and Algerian borders. Economic difficulties remain the principal threat to the country’s stability.
The leader of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) declared the country liberated on 23 October, after the death of former dictator Muammar Qadhafi, and the seizure by NTC forces of remaining Qadhafi strongholds. Following the declaration, the UN Security Council terminated its authorisation of international military action and NATO officially ended its seven-month operation. A battlefield union of eastern and Misratan rebel brigades, coupled with a late September agreement between the Misratan brigades and the Tripoli Military Council over the policing of Tripoli, were positive signs of groundwork necessary for the emergence of a new national army. But significant concerns remain over the need to demobilise local brigades, tackle pockets of resistance, and improve coordination between rebel groups.
On 20 October the terrorist group ETA announced the “definitive cessation” of its 40-year armed campaign for Basque Country independence. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero called the move a “victory for democracy, law and reason”.
Intelligence services document leaked 6 Oct suggested leader of National Liberation Forces Agathon Rwasa planned Sept attack on bar that killed 39 people; claimed Rwasa hiding in DRC, protected by Rwandan rebels, Congolese militia. Police 16 Oct reportedly killed 2 students, seized weapons, police uniforms in raid on university; reportedly found documents suggesting arrested student had links with FNL, opposition Movement for Solidarity and Democracy. Police 24 Oct killed 4 gunmen in Cibitoke, former civil war flashpoint. Deputy leader of opposition National Council for the Defence of Democracy arrested 28 Oct, charged with endangering state security. Concern growing over casualties in Somalia after 51 Burundian AU soldiers killed mid-Oct.
Incumbent President Biya won 9 Oct election with 78% of votes, securing 6th term. Opposition candidates 10 Oct alleged widespread fraud, intimidation, electoral commission misconduct; 17 Oct requested Supreme Court annul results, request rejected 21 Oct. Demonstrations banned in Douala following confirmation of results. Security forces 2 Oct detained over 200 demonstrators after Anglophone separatist movement Southern Cameroon National Council tried to hold rally ahead of polls.
Rebel groups Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) 8 Oct signed ceasefire, ending Sept violence centred in diamond mining hub Bria; agreed to cease hostilities, withdraw from Bria, stay within strongholds. CPJP agreed to join national peace process; spokesman 17 Oct said forces had withdrawn 65km from Bria, asked for aid for Bria residents and displaced people.
Director of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services 7 Oct met with President Deby to discuss border security issues, following return to Darfur from Chad of Justice and Equality Movement leader Khalil Ibrahim. National electoral commission 16 October announced local elections planned for Nov 2011 will be held 15 Jan 2012. Over 1,220 Sub-Saharan Africans evacuated from Libya arrived in Zouarké, Chad/Niger border 20 Oct. Govt 26 Oct confirmed fuel price rise despite general strike by trade unions, civil society.
Vice PM Mulenda 7 Oct announced arrest of 5 armed men from Congo Brazzaville suspected of planning attack on 6 cities including Kinshasa. 5 Congolese aid workers, 2 civilians killed 6 Oct in Malinda, S Kivu; attack blamed on Burundian National Liberation Front. Police continued to forcibly repress political rallies ahead of 28 Nov elections, including opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) demonstrations in Kinshasa 6, 18 Oct. UDPS 4 Oct announced kidnapping of Kapata section chief; accused National Intelligence Agency (ANR) of responsibility. Supreme Court 5 Oct declared inadmissible petition filed by UDPS against electoral body (CENI) and ruling Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) seeking invalidation of certain PPRD electoral lists; CENI 14 Oct published final candidate list. MONUSCO 7 Oct announced it is developing contingency plan to secure elections; 20 Oct announced 700 police officers being trained to provide better policing in S Kivu during polls.
Theogene Rudasingwa, former aide to President Kagame, 1 Oct accused Kagame of ordering 1994 attack against plane carrying former president Habyarimana. Opposition United Democratic Forces (FDU), whose leader Victoire Ingabire is currently on trial for supporting terrorism, 21 Oct alleged that Sylvain Sibomana, acting party SG, had vanished after being attacked by security forces.
Education minister Dr Adawa Hassan Ali sacked from govt over secret meeting with opposition leader Hussein Abdourahman Andholeh in Canada; reportedly fled to Ethiopia.
Rebel groups Red Sea Afar Democratic Organisation and Eritrean National Front 21 Oct claimed they killed 12 govt soldiers in joint attacks on military intelligence units in south.
Refugees from Sudan’s Blue Nile state continued to enter Ethiopia in increasing numbers. Trial began 21 Oct of 2 Swedish journalists charged with terrorism after travelling with rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front. Survival International 6 Oct reported around 100 members of Mursi and Bodi tribes arrested and jailed for opposing the controversial Gibe III dam; security forces also accused of intimidating indigenous communities living on land proposed for development in Lower Omo Valley.
2 grenade explosions 24 Oct in Nairobi bar and bus station left 1 dead, at least 20 injured, and attack 27 Oct on bus near Somali border killed 8, following 16 Oct launch of Kenyan military operation in Somalia to drive back al-Shabaab from border zones and take port of Kismayo; al-Shabaab 17 Oct threatened retaliatory attacks unless Kenyan troops withdraw, air and ground operations halted. Kenyan al-Shabaab member 28 Oct pleaded guilty to 24 Oct grenade attacks; sentenced to life imprisonment. Kenyan troops and pro-Somali govt forces 19 Oct reported capture of key al-Shabaab base, killed 75 militants; conflicting reports Kenyan military supported by U.S. drones and French naval forces. Police 21 Oct arrested 10 people including Muslim cleric on UN sanctions list in aggressive police clampdown on alleged supporters of al-Shabaab militants; 2 doctors appeared in court 21 Oct charged with involvement in organized criminal activity. 2 Spanish aid workers kidnapped in Dadaab refugee camp by Somali gunmen 13 Oct. 12 reported killed 23 Oct in pastoralist clashes in north.
Many killed as clashes between Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces and pro-govt militias and al-Shabaab continued. At least 11 civilians killed, 24 injured 1 Oct in clashes in Mogadishu; 29 al-Shabaab militants and over 50 govt-allied Ahlu Sunna militiamen killed in clashes in strategically important central town Dhusamareb. Suicide bomb attack in Mogadishu 4 Oct killed over 100 people in deadliest terror attack by al-Shabaab since 2010 Kampala bombing. TFG, AMISOM troops 16 Oct began operation to clear al-Shabaab from remaining Mogadishu strongholds. In attempt to drive back al-Shabaab from border zones and take Kismayo port, Kenyan troops entered Somalia 16 Oct. Kenyan air strike 30 Oct reportedly killed 5, wounded 45 in IDP camp in Jibil; Kenyan military claimed strike killed 10 al-Shabaab insurgents, no civilian casualties. At least 4 killed 18 Oct in car-bomb blast near foreign Ministry, following visit by Kenyan defence minister. Al-Shabaab 20 Oct claimed to have killed over 70 AU troops. 2 foreign aid workers and Somali colleague kidnapped 25 Oct near disputed city Galkayo on Puntland-Galmuduug border. UNSC 30 Sept extended AMISOM one year. UNHCR 5 Oct announced it was “very concerned” about escalating violence in south, particularly fighting in border town Dhobley. Residents in Kismayo, Dhobley, Afmadow claim over 50 killed in Somalia by U.S. drone strikes late Oct. U.S. military said drones being deployed from Ethiopia and Seychelles, but only for surveillance.
Leaders from at least 18 opposition parties 13 Oct reported they were considering forming single opposition party. Govt 16 Oct urged international community to set deadline for Sudan withdrawal from Abyei following Khartoum declaration that they would not pull out troops unless 20 June deal on managing region is fully implemented. Minister for defence and veteran affairs John Koang Nyuon 24 Oct arrived in Jonglei state capital Bor to discuss security situation, disarmament; said civilian disarmament will start after rainy season ends in Nov. Rebel South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) 27 Oct threatened to attack Unity state govt, gave UN agencies and aid groups one week to leave. Around 80 killed in rebel SSLA attack on Mayom county, Unity state, 29 Oct; army claimed rebels expelled from county.
Govt 6 Oct pledged to withdraw troops from contested Abyei region following full deployment of UN peacekeepers; 31 Oct rejected 30 Oct offer by S Sudan proposing discounted oil, cash in exchange for control of Abyei. Malik Agar, chairman of SPLM-N, 10 Oct said aerial bombardment by govt forces had killed 74 civilians, wounded over 100 in Blue Nile state since clashes began 2 Sept. Govt 21 Oct announced Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) had captured Sali, strategic town in Blue Nile state; SPLM-N denied. Govt 27 Oct claimed SAF closing in on SPLM-N stronghold of al-Kurmuk in Blue Nile. President Bashir 12 Oct said Sudan will continue with plans to adopt Islamic constitution, strengthen Islamic law; 26 Oct said Sudan had armed Libyan rebels. Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) 17 Oct threatened new offensive if demand for renegotiation of Doha agreement rejected; Democratic Unionist Party-Mainstream 18 Oct declared support for agreement. Amin Hassan Omer, tasked with implementation of Doha agreement, 21 Oct said non-signatory rebels could join if demands to renegotiate abandoned.
12 opposition activists arrested 17 Oct following resumption of walk-to-work protests; opposition leader Besigye confined to house for attempt to participate; court 27 Oct ruled confinement illegal. Besigye arrested again 31 Oct for participating following release. Police 19 Oct said 45 opposition protesters detained since 16 Oct, claimed to have unveiled plot to overthrow govt; plan to charge 15 with treason denounced by opposition. Acting FM Oryem 16 Oct welcomed U.S. offer to send 100 troops to help track down LRA. 3 senior politicians including FM Kutesa and Internal Affair minister Onek resigned mid month ahead of anti-corruption case.
PM Vital and interim govt resigned 18 Oct under terms of political road map signed Sept by main political parties, paving way for elections within a year; Omer Beriziky appointed PM by President of High Transitional Authority Andry Rajoelina 28 Oct.
Sudanese president Bashir 14 Oct visited amid widespread pressure on govt from international community and opposition United Democratic Front to arrest him in fulfilment of ICC warrant. Police forcibly dispersed riots against growing insecurity in Mitundu 16 Oct, triggered by killing of shop owner; 2 civilians “feared dead”, 60 arrested.
South African Ambassador Mavimbela 14 Oct met with PM Tsvangirai, expressed concern at continued farm invasions. Tsvangirai 17 Oct reiterated opposition to ZANU-PF’s economic indigenisation program. Founding ZANU-PF member Enos Nkala 19 Oct urged party to drop President Mugabe as 2012 candidate. Electoral reform hearing disrupted 17 Oct by alleged ZANU-PF militants. Clashes between ZANU-PF and MDC supporters 29 Oct in Hatcliffe left 5 injured, 1 missing; court-sanctioned MDC rallies in Lupane and Victoria Falls 28-29 Oct blocked by police. South African President Zuma did not meet with Principals in negotiations despite earlier statements this would happen mid-Oct; SADC deployments to JOMIC, approved June, still pending.
ICC judges 3 Oct authorized investigation into alleged crimes committed since 28 Nov 2010 and in future; Chief Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo, visiting country mid-Oct, said ICC will probe 3-6 people for involvement in atrocities, did not release names; national authorities should investigate other suspects. Captain Seka Yapo Anselme, military commander wanted for serious crimes committed as aide-de-camp to former first lady Simone Gbagbo, arrested 15 Oct. 21 arrested, weapons seized 15 Oct after attempted attack by dissident gendarmes on Agban military base. UNOCI spokesman 13 Oct reiterated commitment to provide security for 11 Dec legislative elections; Ivorian Popular Front 26 Oct announced intention to boycott unless Gbagbo and other party members released.
UNSG Ban 29 Sept called on authorities to avoid excessive use of force following 27 Sept banned opposition protest that killed 4, injured dozens, saw dozens sentenced to jail. Authorities 30 Sept asked Interpol to arrest and transfer Oury Bah, key opposition figure accused of involvement in 19 July attack on President Condé’s residence. Condé 2 Oct said ready to enter talks with opposition; initial suspension of voter list revision 4 Oct welcomed by opposition, but resumed 21 Oct. Electoral commission officials 6 Oct denounced functioning of commission; 1 official sacked 17 Oct. Legislative elections still scheduled 29 Dec. Following clashes between supporters of rival figures within major trade union National Confederation of Guinean Workers (CNTG), police 25 Oct cordoned off CNTG building to prevent further violence.
UNSG Ban 21 Oct requested UNSC extend mandate of UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) until Dec 2012. Army Chief of Staff Antonio Indjai 28 Sept responded to rumours of coup, said duty is not to serve interests of Balanta ethnic group but country as a whole. Military strongman Rear Adm Bubo na Tchuto 14 Oct reiterated commitment to abide by civilian authority. New state prosecutor 12 Oct relaunched investigation into 2009 murder of Chief of Staff Tagme na Wai, said no investigation for other controversial murders. Social Renovation Party 28 Oct withdrew from National Peace and Reconciliation Conference scheduled Dec, said ruling PAIGC attempting to cover up crimes.
Increased UNMIL/UNOCI presence on Liberia/Côte d’Ivoire border ahead of 11 Oct presidential vote. Incumbent President Johnson-Sirleaf named Nobel Peace laureate 7 Oct, secured 44% in first round vote; 9 opposition parties including Congress for Democratic Change 15 Oct alleged fraud, 26 Oct called for removal of election commission chair as precondition for participation in 8 Nov run-off; chair resigned 30 Oct but CDC yet to confirm participation. Senator and former warlord Prince Johnson, placed 3rd in election, reportedly requested 30% control of govt in return for endorsement of Johnson-Sirleaf in run-off. Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire deployed 540 police officers, 280 gendarmes ahead of second round.
Supreme Court 13 Oct ruled against opposition Solidarity for Democracy and Independence request that it act to redress lack of opposition representation in election commission. Concern over possible Tuareg rebellion stoked by reported return of over 400 fighters from Libya, coinciding with series of rebel attacks in North.
Govt 3 Oct said it would allow Libyan National Transitional Council to interrogate Saadi Qadhafi, but continued to resist extradition; 21 Oct announced travel restrictions lifted on senior Qadhafi loyalists who sought refuge during Libyan conflict, though Saadi Qadhafi to remain in Niger. Other Qadhafi son Seif al-Islam, wanted by ICC, 28 Oct reported to be in Niger negotiating potential surrender into ICC custody; Qadhafi intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi reportedly entered Mali 27 Oct.
5 former Governors tried by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for corruption. Govt Panel on 2011 Elections Violence and Civil Disturbances 10 Oct submitted report to President; included criticism of politicians who told population to “guard” their votes. Boko Haram assassinations, bombings continued in north; Borno state MP Modu Bintube killed 17 Oct in Maiduguri. State journalist Alhaji Zakariya Isa shot dead 22 Oct; Boko Haram claimed responsibility, said Isa “spying”. 30 Oct bomb attack targeted military patrol ahead of 31 Oct deadline to relinquish illegal weapons and explosives in northern city Maiduguri.
Opposition activist sentenced 20 Oct to 2 years prison for alleged threats, contempt of court for 10 Oct open letter to judges criticising “immoral” silence on President Wade’s decision to run for 3rd term.
Efforts to re-start 6-party talks continue with several track I and II meetings. U.S and DPRK officials met in Geneva 24-25 Oct with goal of setting nuclear disarmament negotiations back on track, improving relationship. 6 parties attended track II NE Asia cooperation dialogue in Hawaii; DPRK delegation attended track II meeting at University of Georgia, U.S. late Oct. U.S. and DPRK officials met in Bangkok 18 Oct, agreed to resume searches for remains of U.S. military personnel killed in Korean War. ROK President Lee 13 Oct met U.S. President Obama in Washington, 18 Oct met Japanese PM Noda in Seoul, agreed to coordinate N Korea policy. ROK Defence Minister Kim Kwang-jin 19 Oct told lawmakers ROK would fly into DPRK airspace to conduct ground attacks in case of DPRK provocations. U.S. Sec Defence Panetta travelled to Seoul for Security Consultative Meeting 28 Oct, agreed to complete U.S.-ROK combined counter-provocation plan this year. UN SG for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos 24 Oct visited N Korea, insisted aid should not be politicised. Kim Jong-il and China VP Li Keqiang met in N Korea 25 Oct. Delegation of ROK Conference of Religion for Peace visited Pyongyang late Sept. Chair of ROK’s Grand National Party Hong Joon-pyo 30 Sept visited Kaesŏng Industrial Complex; Unification Ministry agreed to re-start infrastructure construction. Annual joint, combined U.S-ROK “Hoguk” military exercise began 27 Oct.
Continued tension with Pakistan: President Karzai 3 Oct condemned in televised address Pakistan’s “double game” on terrorism; deputy head of National Directorate of Security (NDS) 4 Oct accused Pakistan of refusing to cooperate with investigations into Sept killing of Afghan High Peace Council Chairman Rabbani. Govt 4 Oct signed strategic partnership with India outlining areas of common concern including security, politics; U.S. Sec State Clinton 20 Oct met with Karzai to discuss security. Police 23 Oct gunned down suspected suicide bomber thought to be targeting Interior Minister Mohammadi in Sydekhel district, Parwan province; 4 killed 23 Oct by roadside bomb in Herat province. Bomb planted on oil tanker killed at least 6, injured 50, in Parwan province 25 Oct. Taliban gunmen 27 Oct attacked U.S base in Kandahar; suicide car bomb 27 Oct exploded outside ISAF base in Panjawi region. Suicide bomb 29 Oct targeted NATO convoy in Kabul, killing 17, including 13 NATO troops; Taliban claimed responsibility, officials suspect Haqqani faction. Bomb near UN housing and assault on NGO offices in Kandahar 31 Oct killed at least 5. ISAF 1 Oct announced capture of Haji Mali Khan, senior Afghanistan commander for Haqqani network, blamed for several attacks and accused of links to Pakistan. 200 French soldiers 19 Oct left country marking start of NATO troop withdrawals. UN report released 10 Oct detailing torture of detainees by Afghan security officials.
Opposition leader Khaleda Zia 18 Oct led 10,000-strong protest from capital to NW Chapainawabganj city to demand govt resignation, early elections.
3 troops killed 7 Oct in suspected Maoist IED explosion in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district; at least 6 police killed 21 Oct in ambush by Maoist insurgents in Bastar district.
Govt 1 Oct denied People’s Democratic Party (PDP) allegations of govt responsibility for 30 Sept death in detention of ruling National Conference (NC) leader Haji Muhammad Yusuf. Chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir states Omar Abdullah 21 Oct said situation in many areas sufficiently peaceful to lift Armed Forces Special Powers Act; Public Safety Act amended 29 Oct, reducing detention periods and scrapping child detention. 2 grenade explosions 25 Oct in Srinagar wounded at least 3 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers. At least 3 injured 26 Oct in grenade explosion in Bijbehra town in South.
PM Baburam Bhattarai made 4-day state visit to India, representing significant thaw in Maoist-India relations. Despite criticisms of govt by opposition UML and some in Maoist party, negotiations on future of Maoist combatants continued between Bhattarai, Maoist chairman Prachanda and Nepali Congress.
Clashes between security forces and insurgents continued. Over 24 insurgents killed 9-11 Oct in Upper Dir; 9 soldiers, 14 militants killed 17 Oct in clash on outskirts of Kyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) capital Peshawar, 12 injured 26 Oct, 14 injured 27 Oct in Peshawar explosions. Suicide bomber 28 Oct killed 2 in KPK. 2 former members of anti-Taliban peace committee killed 26 Oct by gunman in Tank, KPK. Over 30 militants 21 Oct attacked home of Makil Noor Mahammad, prominent pro-govt tribal elder in NW; 3 family members killed. Suspected Sunni gunmen 4 Oct executed 13 Shia Hazaras near Balochistan capital Quetta. Top Haqqani militant killed 13 Oct in N Waziristan in suspected U.S. drone strike. Govt commission set up to investigate Bin Laden killing 6 Oct recommended Dr. Shakeel Afridi, Pakistani doctor accused of helping CIA track down Bin Laden, be charged with high treason. Army 22 Oct accused ISAF forces in Afghanistan of failing to prevent cross-border raids from Afghanistan; 1 soldier killed, 4 wounded 10 Oct in cross-border attack by around 200 Afghan militants. Suspected U.S. drone 30 Oct killed 6 militants near Afghan border. Visiting U.S. Sec State Clinton pressed Pakistan to take action against Afghan insurgent safe havens. Over 30,000 supporters of opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N 28 Oct protested in Lahore demanding resignation of President Zardari, citing corruption, power cuts. Quetta court 28 Oct issued arrest warrant for former President Musharraf and former PM Aziz over 2006 killing of Baloch leader.
Ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) coalition won 8 Oct local elections, but failed to take Colombo, now United National Party’s (UNP) only remaining stronghold. 4 UPFA politicians murdered 8 Oct in Colombo including senior figure Baratha Lakshman Premachandra, reportedly assassinated by gunmen working for rival UPFA politician Duminda Silva, closely linked to Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa; Silva wounded in return fire. Around 1,000 people 30 Sept threw stones, set fire to police station and vehicles in town outside Colombo after young man died in police custody; 6 policemen injured. UNSG Ban 26 Oct met Sri Lankan Human Rights envoy, stressed the importance of dealing with accountability issues in context of national reconciliation. Australian Attorney Gen declined to proceed with war crimes charges filed in Australian court against President Rajapaksa. Commonwealth leaders 29 Oct affirmed Sri Lanka would host 2013 heads of govt meeting, despite calls to postpone meeting in Colombo until rights violations are investigated.
Violence and tensions rising in Papua. Some 7,000 workers at Freeport Mine involved in strike for higher wages which began 15 Sept; 2 workers died, several injured 10 Oct in clashes with police. 3 people killed by unidentified gunmen firing at truck near mine 14 Oct, one of several ambush shootings during month. Security forces 19 Oct dispersed pro-independence “Papuan Congress III” after participants proclaimed Federation of West Papua, raising banned Morning Star flag; 300 people briefly detained, 6 charged with rebellion. Further demonstrations end-month. Increased fears of pre-election violence in Aceh after Partai Aceh early-Oct claimed it would boycott 24 Dec local elections, protesting Constitutional Court’s decision to allow independent candidates. Parliament 12 Oct passed new intelligence law denying State Intelligence Agency (BIN) power to arrest, detain, but giving agency wiretapping authority and other powers. Jihadi leader Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s prison sentence cut from 15 to 9 years on appeal, apparently due to his age.
Authorities 12 Oct released more than 6,000 prisoners, including 200-300 political prisoners, in 2nd such release since new govt took office; indicated more to follow. Aung San Suu Kyi’s (ASSK) NLD said all political prisoners should have been freed. ASSK 28 Oct met with govt liaison minister Aung Kyi for 4th time in recent months; along with other NLD leaders has indicated willingness to consider registering party to contest upcoming by-elections conditional on changes to political party law, currently being discussed in legislature. Govt 10 Oct enacted new labour law granting workers right to form trade unions and strike, ending 50 years of restrictions on freedom of association. During late-Oct visit U.S. Special Rep for Burma Derek Mitchell met senior officials, ASSK. Thai PM Yingluck made first visit to Myanmar 5 Oct. President Thein Sein mid-Oct visited India, countries agreed to expand trade, co-operation in oil and gas exploration, India pledged $500mn credit for infrastructure projects. Fighting escalated mid-Oct in parts of Kachin State, resulting in casualties on both sides, further displacement; also reports of rights abuses.
Violent clashes between soldiers and MILF broke out as peace process remained stalled. MILF 18 Oct claimed army attacked its base in Al Barka, Basilan; 19 soldiers, 6 MILF killed. Military 19 Oct shelled MILF base in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay; insurgents 20 Oct retaliated killing 4 soldiers, 4 police. Army bombed same area 24-25 Oct, first time since 2008 conflict; 2 soldiers, 6 rebels killed; 11,600 displaced. MILF claims army is violating ceasefire. Govt maintains they are pursuing Waning Abdusalam, leader of criminal gang with outstanding arrest warrants; MILF clarified he is not a member. MILF 25 Oct reaffirmed commitment to peace process but President Aquino under pressure to suspend talks. MILF 3 Oct announced rogue commander Ameril Umbra Kato expelled from group in Sept. In boost for Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) reform process, Supreme Court 18 Oct approved postponement of ARMM elections to 2013; President Aquino to appoint interim leadership to improve governance. Communist New People’s Army (NPA) 3 Oct attacked 3 mining companies in NE Mindanao, raising fears of NPA resurgence, impact of conflict on mining, investment. NPA 9 Oct released Lingig mayor, kidnapped in Aug, in hopes of reviving faltering peace talks. Against backdrop of regional dispute over South China Sea, visiting Vietnamese President 27 Oct backed Philippines’ proposal for peace zone.
Former head of armed forces Taur Matan Ruak 10 Oct announced intention to run for president in March 2012 elections. Hundreds of members of dissident group CPD-RDTL held demonstration in Dili 5 Oct.
Country hit by worst floods in living memory; almost 400 people reported dead, some 2mn in 27 provinces affected. Floods surrounding Bangkok, already partially submerged. Govt restructured state operation to tackle violence in South, granting more power to military at expense of civilian-led Southern Border Administrative Center. Violence in South continued: series of bomb attacks in 24 places in Yala 25 Oct killed 4, injured 49; attacks apparently meant to mark 7th anniversary of Tak Bai incident that saw 85 Malay Muslims killed by security forces. 4 injured in 3 bomb attacks 31 Oct in Yala, Narathiwat.
As one-year anniversary of 2010 elections passed without formation of state govt, new escalation of tensions due to radical rhetoric of Republika Srpska (RS) president Dodik in Russian media interview 15 Oct, response by Bosniak state presidency member Izetbegovic. 28 Oct attack on U.S. embassy by member of Serbian Wahhabi movement revived latent fears of Islamic terrorism taking root locally. European Commission annual progress report criticised lack of progress on governance reform, social conditions, fight against drug trafficking and organised crime.
Continued standoff between KFOR peacekeeping forces and Kosovo Serbs maintaining over a dozen roadblocks on main roads in north in protest against Kosovo govt customs officials at border crossings with Serbia. Serbs ignored KFOR deadlines to remove roadblocks, prevented KFOR convoys from delivering supplies to troops on border with Serbia. KFOR 20 Oct attempted to remove barricades in Zupce and Jagnjenica in Zubin Potok municipality; around 40 Serb protesters reported injured in clashes with KFOR at Jagnjenica. Kosovo Serb mayors 22 Oct offered deal allowing KFOR freedom of movement for troop resupply, but refused to extend deal to EULEX. Following further discussions with Serbian president Tadic, local Serbs 27 Oct agreed to partially remove barricades, allow KFOR through. KFOR welcomed move but said not enough. European Commission annual progress report 12 Oct cited limited progress in tackling organised crime, drug trafficking, corruption; announced opening of visa liberalisation dialogue by year-end.
First national census since 2002 began 1 Oct but annulled following collective resignation of census commission 11 Oct over disagreements on basic rules for collecting data, including on whether citizens residing abroad for over a year should be included. EU Commission issued annual progress report again recommending accession talks but criticising lack of effort in reforms.
European Commission 12 Oct issued positive annual progress report recommending Serbia obtain EU candidate status, but conditional on Serbia re-engaging in constructive dialogue with Kosovo. Final decision on whether Serbia to receive candidate status to be made in Dec. President Tadic said country wants to solve problems with Kosovo, but will not abandon principles regarding territorial integrity.
Several thousand in opposition rallies in Yerevan early month following HAK party’s late Sept call for return to protests after breakdown in dialogue with govt. Addressing protesters 8 Oct HAK leader Ter-Petrosian announced temporary stop to demonstrations, despite not having secured concessions from govt; called for “immediate resignation” of President Sargsyan. Several thousand reportedly attended 28 Oct opposition rally.
3 opposition activists jailed 3 Oct for 2.5 years for role in April anti-govt protest, fourth given suspended sentence; 4 more activists jailed 10 Oct for up to 3 years. Sentences prompted protests, international condemnation. Head of Islamic Party of Azerbaijan (AIP) Movsum Samadov jailed for 12 years 7 Oct, convicted of trying to overthrow govt; several other AIP members also sentenced. Interior Minister Ramil Usubov attended Commonwealth of Independent States meeting in rare visit to Armenia. Azerbaijan and Turkey 25 Oct signed agreement on transit of Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe.
No tangible progress early month in 17th round of Geneva talks, established after Aug 2008 war to negotiate security between Georgian, Russian, Abkhazian and South Ossetian (SO) representatives. Breakthrough in negotiations over Russia’s WTO membership, after Georgia 27 Oct accepted Swiss proposal for international monitors at border between Georgia’s 2 breakaway republics and Russia. Bidzina Ivanishvili, billionaire businessman and former ally of President Saakashvili, announced intention to establish political party and cooperate with centrist western-oriented opposition Republican Party and Free Democrats; following announcement Civil Registry Agency declared Ivanishvili’s citizenship invalid, and police 18 Oct seized vehicle and arrested staff of Ivanishvili’s Cartu bank on money laundering charges. Opposition parties condemned govt attempts to “repress” Ivanishvili. 17 candidates running for 13 Nov presidential elections in SO. Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly 5 Oct adopted resolution calling on member states to refrain from recognising independence of Abkhazia, SO.
Tensions remain high on line of contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan, further ceasefire violations reported. Armenian defence ministry 5 Oct reported 2 Armenian servicemen injured by sniper shots, 1 killed on line of contact; same day announced launch of “punitive operation” against Azerbaijani forces after killing of Karabakh Defence Army soldier by Azerbaijani sniper. Azerbaijani media reported 2 killed in operation. 32 Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly delegates early Oct issued joint declaration recognizing independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian President Sargsyan in 18 Oct meeting with U.S. Asst Sec State Gottemoeller said Yerevan will continue to abide by Conventional Forces in Europe treaty despite alleging violations by Azerbaijan; Azerbaijan expressed concern over reported Armenian acquisition of arms from Moldova.
Continued militant violence in Dagestan, including abductions, attacks; prominent Sufi Sheik Sirazhudin Khurigsky killed in Tabasaran district 27 Oct; head of Dagestani branch of Federal Penitentiary Service wounded in grenade attack in capital Makhachkala 13 Oct; 1 soldier killed in Khasavyurt district 28 Oct; 1 policeman killed in Kayakent district 19 Oct; 3 hunters killed in Karabudakhkent district 16 Oct; 2 police killed in explosion in Kizilyurt 3 Oct; 3 suspected militants killed early Oct. Police forcefully dispersed several hundred protesters from anti-corruption rally in Makhachkala 3 Oct, temporarily detained 28 people, prompting complaints over violation of protesters’ rights. Russian interior minister 5 Oct reported 2011 frequency of terrorist incidents in Kabardino-Balkaria (KBR) half figure for same period in 2010. However, situation in KBR’s Elbrus area deteriorated: sports club owner killed by suspected insurgents 7 Oct, reportedly over refusal to pay “jihad money”; couple employed by Institute of Nuclear Studies murdered 7 Oct; 2 suspected militants killed in security operation in Baksan. Residents of region reliant on tourism reporting increasing financial troubles from counter-terrorism regime introduced in Feb. In Chechnya, 2 Russian soldiers killed in Yarish-Mardy village 25 Oct; interior ministry sergeant killed by bomb in Sunzha district 10 Oct. Russian prosecutors office reported 2 Chechens killed in Istanbul in Sept were wanted for 2010 Domodedovo airport bombing.
Authorities 2 Oct freed Dmitry Vus, key opposition figure and candidate in disputed Dec 2010 presidential election. Parliament passed law introducing new measures against opposition, including banning financial support, increasing KGB powers. EU FMs 10 Oct extended sanctions against Belarus, added 16 more names, mostly judges, to 192-strong list of individuals banned from entering EU; extended current sanctions for 1 year.
Former PM Tymoshenko convicted on abuse of office charges 11 Oct, sentenced to 7 years jail, fined $190m, barred from holding office for 3 years, over 2009 gas deal she signed with Russia while PM. Sentence provoked international condemnation; EU foreign policy chief Ashton said trial did not meet international standards, has “profound implications” for EU-Ukraine relationship; EU cancelled scheduled late-Oct visit by President Yanukovych. Authorities later announced opening new case against Tymoshenko for suspected embezzlement during 1990s, investigating her for alleged involvement in 1996 murder.
ETA 20 Oct released statement announcing “definitive cessation of its armed activity” for Basque independence, called on French and Spanish govts to respond with “process of direct dialogue”. Spanish govt welcomed move; PM Zapatero called announcement “victory for democracy, law and reason”. Announcement followed peace conference in San Sebastian calling for ETA to lay down arms, govt to open negotiations.
Greek Cypriots 17 Oct announced cancellation of annual military exercise; Turkey reciprocated by cancelling military exercise it holds jointly with Turkish Cypriots on north of island. Move thought to have little bearing on chances of breakthrough in reunification talks, now seen as unlikely despite continuedmeetings, 30-31 Octtrilateraltalksin NewYork between UNSG Ban and Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders. Greek Cypriot govt continued to struggle as official inquiry 3 Oct reported President Christofias personally responsible for July munitions blast which damaged island’s main power plant. Amid escalating tensions over oil and gas exploration off coast, in 24 Oct ceremony Christofias symbolically started drilling for gas, while Turkey launched new seismic study. Turkey’s “aggressive” behaviour towards Cyprus to be discussed at European Council in Dec, following 23 Oct proposal by Christofias.
Bomb exploded outside govt office in Londonderry 12 Oct; no injuries. Real IRA suspected.
Several deadly attacks throughout month by PKK including 19 Oct assault on border posts in Hakkari that killed at least 26 soldiers; President Gül vowed “great revenge”. Military responded 20 Oct by launching ground offensive, airstrikes into N Iraq; military said at least 49 PKK killed. Suicide bomber 29 Oct killed 2, wounded 20 in predominantly Kurdish eastern Bingol town. Constitution committee involving all parties in parliament began meeting 19 Oct to discuss new constitution. Over 120 people detained 4 Oct for links to PKK including BDP deputy leader and several mayors. EC 12 Oct presented annual progress report on Turkey, criticised regression in freedom of expression. FM Davutoğlu 17 Oct met with members of Syria’s opposition National Council in Istanbul, urged them to use peaceful methods to achieve democracy. Nearly 600 killed by 23 Oct earthquake in SE Van province.
President Nazarbaev 13 Oct signed into law controversial new legislation tightening govt control over religious groups: previously unknown Islamist group Jund al-Khilafah 26 Oct threatened violence unless law abolished. 2 explosions in western city Atyrau 31 Oct; suspected suicide bomber killed. Senior member of ruling Nur-Otan party Valery Proskuryakov shot dead 13 Oct. Almaty Court 4 Oct ordered 6-month suspension of opposition Communist Party for violating law on public organisations by co-founding movement to monitor ongoing strike by thousands of oil workers in West. 2 striking oil workers, 2 journalists covering strike attacked by unknown assailants during month. 4 men sentenced 7 Oct to jail terms from 6 years to life for religious extremism, armed resistance against police, during July attack in western Aktobe region.
Preliminary results of 30 Oct presidential elections indicate outright victory for former PM Atambaev, gaining 62.8% of votes; main competitors claim fraud, threaten protests, international observers criticised “significant irregularities”. Elections preceded by tensions in south. Some 1,000 protesters 10 Oct blocked entrance to district govt building in southern Jalal-Abad region to demand release of local governor Ulan Baimyrzaev, detained 9 Oct for suspected bribe-taking; claim arrest politically motivated due to his role promoting reconciliation between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz after June 2010 clashes. One checkpoint on Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, closed since June 2010, reopened 26 Oct.
Annual power cuts began early Oct; initial limits halve electricity supplies to most rural areas. U.S. Sec State Clinton 22 Oct met President Rahmon in Dushanbe, discussed concerns over rights, security along Afghan border, drug trafficking. Provincial court 17 Oct sentenced 4 men to lengthy prison terms, convicted of membership in banned Hizb ut-Tahrir movement. In northern Sughd province BBC reporter Urunboy Usmonov sentenced 14 Oct to 3 years jail for not informing authorities about contacts with Hizb ut-Tahrir, but freed under amnesty law. Newspaper journalist Makhmadyusuf Ismoilov, held since Nov 2010 on charges including libel, insulting officials, extortion, freed 14 Oct, but fined and banned from journalism for 3 years. 4 men sentenced to 20-22 years jail mid Oct for Hizb ut-Tahrir membership.
RFE/RL correspondent Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev sentenced 5 Oct to 5 years jail, for allegedly encouraging relative to attempt suicide. Rights groups say conviction retaliation for Yazkuliyev’s coverage of July explosions at Abadan weapons depot; following international criticism Yazkuliyev granted presidential amnesty 26 Oct. Parliament 25 Oct conferred title of “Hero of Turkmenistan” on President Berdymukhammedov.
U.S. Sec State Clinton 22 Oct met President Karimov in Tashkent, aiming to enlist greater Uzbek assistance in transit of military equipment to and from Afghanistan as 2014 drawdown approaches. Clinton urged greater respect for rights; U.S. officials reported Karimov pledged progress on liberalisation, democratic reforms. European Parliament 4 Oct rejected trade deal facilitating export of Uzbekistan textiles to Europe, citing continued use of child labour to harvest cotton. President Karimov 11 Oct met U.S., German special representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan, discussed support for Afghan economy.
Following late Sept violent police crackdown on indigenous protest against highway construction through indigenous territory and national park, groups resumed protest march 1 Oct, 19 Oct reached La Paz; President Morales 21 Oct announced road would not be built, 25 Oct signed law prohibiting highway construction through territory. In country’s first ever judicial elections 16 Oct, estimated 60% of voters spoilt or left blank their ballots after opposition call for boycott, alleged biased pre-selection process; observers claim major defeat for Morales.
30 Oct municipal, departmental elections preceded by violence: 41 candidates killed, many abandoned campaigns due to threats; 20 soldiers killed 21, 22 Oct in attacks allegedly carried out by FARC in NariñoandAraucadepartments; President Santos 23 Oct admitted military, police failures. Former left-wing rebel Gustavo Petro elected mayor of Bogota. Constitutional reform proposal including framework for demobilisation of illegal armed groups, submitted to Congress Sept, 11 Oct passed 1st of 8 debates; controversial issue of political rights for former combatants not debated. Santos 31 Oct dissolved scandal-plagued domestic intelligence service (DAS). Army 8 Oct said it killed 5 suspected ELN rebels near Venezuelan border during search for 10-year old daughter of mayor of Fortul, kidnapped late Sept, freed 17 Oct; FARC believed responsible but deny involvement. Defence Minister Pinzón 20 Oct said army killed Jose “Mincho” Neftali, top FARC leader. U.S. Congress 12 Oct passed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
Colombian truck drivers 3 Oct began blockade of Rumichaca border crossing, claiming unfair competition due to Ecuadorian fuel subsidies, restrictions on operations in Ecuador; Ecuador threatened withdrawal from Andean Community of Nations. Guayas Provincial Court 10 Oct suspended 3 year jail sentence and $40mn penalty for libel against El Universo journalist Emilio Palacio; follows Appeals Court’s ratification of sentence in Sept.
Venezuela 7 October accepted 95 of 148 recommendations made in UNHRC Universal Periodic Review, but rejected recommendations concerning judicial independence, press freedom, protection of NGOs. Supreme Court 17 Oct dismissed as “unfeasible” Sept Inter American Court of Human Rights ruling that former mayor Leopoldo López, previously banned from holding office, could run for 2012 elections. Govt 19 Oct imposed $2.1mn fine on only remaining opposition news channel Globovisión for coverage of June riots in Rodeo prison.
Former military ruler Oscar Mejia Victores and former military intelligence chief Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez arrested mid-month on charges of genocide, war crimes; later declared unfit to stand trial for health reasons. Ahead of 6 Nov presidential election run-off, polls indicate retired general Otto Perez Molina ahead of opponent, businessman Manuel Baldizón.
Following months of political gridlock, Senate 5 Oct approved PM Garry Conille, 3rd candidate nominated by President Martelly; parliament 15 Oct approved new cabinet. Martelly 12 Oct met former Presidents Aristide and Duvalier in effort to promote reconciliation; discussed creation of council of former presidents to build national consensus. UNSC 14 Oct announced withdrawal of 2,750 MINUSTAH troops, returning to pre-earthquake total of 9,500; extended mandate until Oct 2012. Increasing concerns over Martelly’s announcement of 18 Nov decree on national army reinstatement; UN SRSG Mariano Fernandez 26 Oct said new army would require new agreement with UN. Fernandez expressed concern over 27 Oct arrest of MP Arnel Bélizaire; parliament 28 Oct called for resignation of Ministers of Justice and Interior, Sec State for Foreign Affairs, state prosecutor.
Security forces early Oct arrested 18 police officers accused of working with Zetas cartel; 4 Oct captured Martin Rosales Magaña, leader of Familia Michoacana cartel, and Noel Salgueiro Nevarez, leader of Sinaloa cartel in Chihuahua state, in separate raids. Police 6 Oct arrested Alfredo Carmona, suspected “Mata-Zetas” (Zetas killers) leader and 14 Oct Marco Garza de León Quiroga, high-ranking Zetas cartel boss. 32 bodies found in Veracruz 7 Oct; officials believe killings carried out by “Mata-Zetas”. 21 killed 28 Oct in Michoacan in shootouts between security forces, gunmen, rival drug gangs. President Calderon 17 Oct sparked row with opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, alleging it might consider deals with cartels if it wins July 2012 presidential election.
Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, seized by Hamas in 2006, released 18 Oct in exchange for release of 1,207 Palestinians - 450 immediately, rest in 2 months. Flare-up in violence 27-31 Oct: barrage of rockets fired by Islamic Jihad group from Gaza killed 1 Israeli civilian in Ashkelon; dozen Palestinians killed in IDF airstrikes. 25 Egyptians in Israeli custody swapped 27 Oct for U.S.-Israeli citizen arrested in Egypt in June on suspicion of espionage. Quartet official 26 Oct said Israel, Palestinians agreed to offer peace proposals on issues of territory, security within 3 months. UNSG Ban 14 Oct criticised reported Israeli plans to build 2,600 housing units in E Jerusalem as “unacceptable”. Defence Minister Barak 12 Oct formally apologised to Egypt for Sept killing of 6 Egyptian soldiers by IDF. Turkish PM Erdoğan 5 Oct called Israel regional threat for assumed possession of nuclear weapons. Palestine 31 Oct granted full membership to UNESCO; U.S. immediately cut funding to organisation.
PM al-Bakhit 12 Oct resigned over slow pace of political reforms. King Abdullah II replaced him with Awn al-Khasawneh, former International Court of Justice judge. New cabinet sworn in 24 Oct; Islamist opposition declined invitation to join but backed new govt’s reformist agenda. Intelligence chief also replaced 12 Oct following accusations of hampering reforms.
Pre-trial judge 17 Oct asked UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) to consider trying 4 Hizbollah suspects in absentia. U.S. Ambassador Connelly 24 Oct warned of possible “serious consequences” if govt fails to meet obligations toward STL. UNSG Ban 19 Oct asked Syria to end military incursions into Lebanon which killed 3 Syrian citizens in month; officials estimate over 5,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon (see Syria). Govt 11 Oct raised minimum wage 40% to avoid 12 Oct general strike.
UN reported over 3,000 now killed in crackdown on ongoing anti-regime protests, including at least 187 children; thousands more arrested, tortured or disappeared. UNSC resolution condemning Syria vetoed 5 Oct by Russia and China over mention of possible sanctions. FM Moallem 9 Oct warned foreign countries not to recognise newly formed opposition Syrian National Council. Kurdish opposition leader Mashaal Tammo killed 7 Oct by gunmen; at least 5 killed by security forces as tens of thousands attended funeral. Tens of thousands demonstrated in Damascus, Aleppo in govt-organised rallies in support of President Assad. U.S. Ambassador Ford 24 Oct left country after receiving threats; Damascus immediately withdrew Washington envoy. In deadliest Friday demonstrations since May some 35 reportedly killed 28 Oct, mostly in Homs and Hama. Increased clashes between army defectors and security forces including clash 29 Oct in Homs that reportedly killed 20 soldiers, injured 50. NATO Sec Gen Rasmussen 31 Oct ruled out possibility of military intervention. Arab League 30 Oct called for end to violence, release of prisoners, negotiations with opposition in Cairo from 2 Nov.
Pro-democracy protests continued. Youth died after 6 Oct clashes between pro-reform activists and police in Abu Saiba; govt promised public investigation. 33 activists sentenced early month for up to 15 years in prison for charges including violence and attempted murder during anti-govt protests. Civilian court retrial ordered 5 Oct for 20 medical personnel sentenced to prison for involvement in protests; UN SG Ban, U.S. questioned judicial process. 5 opposition parties, including main Shiite party Wefaq, 12 Oct published joint “Manama Document” demanding transition to constitutional monarchy. U.S. Sec State Clinton 26 Oct urged follow-through on independent investigation into protest crackdown.
U.S. 11 Oct said it broke up Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington; Iran denied accusations. EU 10 Oct expanded sanctions against Iran because of continued rights abuses. UN special rapporteur on human rights 17 Oct report said rights abuses in Iran are increasing; Iran rejected findings. FM Salehi 21 Oct visited Ankara, pledged cooperation in operation against Kurdish militants (see Turkey). President Ahmadinejad 22 Oct criticised Syrian regime’s killing of protesters but warned against international intervention. U.S. Sec State Clinton 23 Oct warned Iran not to exploit U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq (see Iraq); 27 Oct said Iran is morphing into military dictatorship.
U.S. President Obama 21 Oct announced all U.S. troops will be withdrawn as scheduled at year-end; PM Maliki 22 Oct said talks will continue over U.S. trainers staying after withdrawal. Wave of bombings across Baghdad 10-13 Oct killed scores. Govt and administration of Iraqi Kurdistan condemned 19 Oct Turkish ground operation and air strikes against PKK in northern Iraq. Maliki 29 Oct said 615 detained in anti-Baathist security sweep late month.
2 Iranian men arrested 11 Oct in Washington over alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S.; Iran denied claims. 14 people injured 3 Oct in clashes between protesters and security forces in eastern Qatif province; officials blamed “outside forces”.
Increase in violence over month, as country remains on verge of full-scale war between security forces supporting President Saleh and forces loyal to opposition. Violence slowed early month but worsening bloodshed from 15 Oct as dozens of protesters killed in Sanaa, Taiz in worst fighting since Saleh’s return from Saudi Arabia. UNSC 21 Oct passed resolution condemning violence, called for transition of power on basis of GCC initiative; Saleh 24 Oct welcomed resolution but has already rejected GCC plan 3 times. Teenage son of U.S.-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed late Sept in U.S. drone attack, among 9 killed 14 Oct in U.S. drone attack in S Shebwa governorate. Head of counter-terrorism in restive Abyan province killed 28 Oct in car bomb in Aden; latest in series of attacks on security officials in south linked to Islamist militants.
3 aid workers kidnapped 22 Oct by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb from refugee camp in west. Woman killed 17 Oct by roadside bomb in Boumerdes province. Libyan National Transitional Council 20 Oct called for extradition of former leader Qadhafi’s family, granted asylum in Algeria in Aug on humanitarian grounds.
In worst outbreak of violence since ouster of President Mubarak 26 people killed, over 200 injured 9 Oct in army crackdown on Christian protest in Cairo; Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) denied troops used live ammunition. Thousands of police in nationwide strike 24 Oct to demand better salaries and purge of Mubarak regime officials from security posts. Political parties 2 Oct retracted threat to boycott Nov parliamentary elections after concessions by SCAF on rules allowing members of Mubarak’s former ruling party to run. Head of SCAF Field Marshal Tantawi 5 Oct vowed military will step down but only after it had “fulfilled its commitments”. Egypt and Israel 27 Oct swapped 25 Egyptians in Israeli custody for U.S.-Israeli citizen (see Israel/OPT).
National Transitional Council (NTC) leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil 23 Oct declared liberation of Libya. Former dictator Qadhafi captured by rebel forces 20 Oct, died in custody. Prior to his death, remaining resistance concentrated in parts of central and southern Libya, principally Beni Walid, captured by NTC forces 17 Oct, and Sirte, captured 20 Oct. UNSC 27 Oct unanimously adopted Resolution 2016, ending authorisation of international military action. NATO 31 Oct ended operation, despite 26 Oct call by Jalil for it to stay until year-end. Remaining security concerns over need to demobilise brigades, remaining pro-Qadhafi forces, need for greater coordination among rebel forces. Some positive signs of groundwork for emergence of new National Army with battlefield union of eastern and Misratan brigades, and late Sept agreement between Tripoli Military Council and Misratan Brigades over policing of Tripoli. Political process remained stalled; Jalil 23 Oct said Shariah law would be “basic source” of legislation, laws contradicting Islam would be nullified. NTC 31 Oct announced academic Abdurrahim al-Keib new PM. Following international pressure NTC 24 Oct ordered investigation into death of Qadhafi. Amnesty International 13 Oct reported widespread abuse, torture by NTC forces of captured Qadhafi loyalists; Human Rights Watch reported apparent execution of 53 Qadhafi supporters.
Weeks-long demonstrations continued peacefully early month over claim national census excludes minorities. Officials said al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb senior leader killed 20 Oct in air raid in Wagadou Forest near Mali.
Weekly demonstrations by 20 February movement continued. Largest 23 Oct as thousands across country denounced political, economic corruption; protesters clashed with police in Rabat. Activist killed 12 Oct by policeman in Safi during second day of peaceful occupation for right to work. Banned Islamist movement Adl Wal Ihsane 10 Oct joined PSU in calling for boycott of Nov parliamentary elections. Authorities said they dismantled jihadi cells 1, 5, 15 Oct. Imams 10 Oct held rare demonstration demanding better employment conditions, greater freedoms. Rabat court 29 Oct issued death sentence to leader behind April Marrakesh bombing.
In historic elections 23 Oct moderate Islamist An-Nahda Party won plurality with 90 out of 217 seats. Despite fears of potential for pre- and post-election violence, poll praised by observers as fair and well-organised. Al Aridha Chaabia Party had seats revoked 28 Oct after allegations it broke campaign finance rules; following announcement, protestors in Sidi Bouzid set fire to courthouse, police HQ, offices of rival party. An-Nahda also had 1 seat revoked in Medenine. Several hundred activists 25 Oct held demonstration protesting alleged reports of electoral improprieties by An-Nahda. Ahead of poll several thousand people 9 Oct attacked TV station following broadcasting of animated film which they claim insulted Islam; police forcibly dispersed hundreds demonstrating 10 Oct at main university in Tunis against ban on wearing niqab, closing of mosque.
Peace efforts between Morocco and Polisario Front suspended after UN envoy 27 Oct unable to organise new talks. 11 people sentenced 12 Oct for up to 1 year in prison for involvement in Sept football riots in Dakhla.