Tracking Conflict Worldwide
Outlook for This Month September 2013
Conflict Risk Alerts
Trends for Last Month August 2013
In the latest ugly turn to Syria’s conflict, an apparent chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on 21 August reportedly killed over 1,400 people and injured many more. The attack sparked broad international condemnation and, despite the Assad regime’s denial that it was responsible, renewed discussion among Western states of armed intervention. U.S. President Barack Obama said he would seek Congressional approval for airstrikes against select regime targets (see our statement).
Sectarian violence in Iraq continued to exact heavy death tolls, including over 78 civilians killed in a series of car bombings in Shiite areas on 28 August. So far there appears to be little appetite by political leaders for the compromises necessary to halt the escalating violence (see our latest report). Instead, the government has requested from the U.S. additional weaponry and intelligence support in order to “combat terrorism”. It has arrested over 670 of what it calls suspected terrorists as part of a new military operation, dubbed “Martyrs’ Revenge”.
Lebanon entered a phase of tit-for-tat violence on a scale unseen since the civil war, as the country’s crippling political and sectarian divide continues to deepen. At least 42 people were killed and hundreds wounded in two explosions in Tripoli on 23 August. The attacks were interpreted as retaliation for a powerful car bomb in the Hizbollah-controlled southern Beirut suburbs on 15 August which killed at least 27 people.
In Egypt hundreds were reported killed in an army crackdown on supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo on 14 August, the result of security forces’ continued excessive force against predominantly peaceful pro-Morsi protests (see our recent briefing). The army declared a curfew and a state of emergency. Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood officials have been arrested, often on apparently flimsy charges of inciting violence. The current cycle of violence is believed to have claimed over a thousand lives, predominantly Morsi supporters.
In Yemen, clashes between Huthis and their various rivals in Amran, Saada and Ibb left scores dead and many more injured. Attacks on security personnel increased, with 29 killed in the first half of the month alone. A reported al-Qaeda threat prompted the closure of Western embassies early August and led to a sharp escalation in U.S. drone strikes that killed dozens, primarily in the South.
Discontent and insecurity continued to worsen in Libya. Armed groups are becoming increasingly polarised between those opposing the government and congress and units intent on defending them and other state institutions. On 17 August groups involved in the July closure of oil