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
In Sudan a Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) offensive in Blue Nile state, and renewed clashes in Southern Kordofan between the SAF and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, fuelled fears of a return to civil war. This comes amid SAF deployments of troops and heavy weaponry to Blue Nile and continued reports of aerial bombardments against civilians by the SAF. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for Sudan for the coming month. Concerted international action is needed to stem the violence and prevent it from engulfing the entire country and region.
BurundiCentral African RepublicSudanGuineaAfghanistanKosovoBoliviaYemen
Insurgent attacks intensified in Afghanistan, stoking fears of further escalation in October ahead of international conferences in Istanbul and Bonn. On 20 September ex-President and chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani was assassinated, leading President Hamid Karzai to declare his government would abandon talks with the Taliban. Insurgents conducted a 20-hour attack on the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul on 14 September, leaving 27 people dead. CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for Afghanistan for October.
Yemen is on the cusp of full-scale civil war between security forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and troops and militia loyal to his opponents. A brutal crackdown in Sanaa on 18 September, with regime forces killing at least 26 unarmed protesters, dimmed prospects for a peaceful compromise. The following day opposition forces loyal to defected General Ali Mohsen engaged in battles with pro-Saleh troops in the worst fighting the capital has seen since March, leaving scores of civilians dead and hundreds wounded. CrisisWatch also identifies a conflict risk alert for Yemen.
Violence broke out in the north of Kosovo as Kosovo Serbs resisted the Pristina government’s attempts to take control of border points with Serbia. Mid-month Pristina deployed customs and border officers, supported by the EU rule of law mission and protected by KFOR forces, to two border gates. Serbs erected roadblocks at both gates and throughout the north in response; four KFOR soldiers and several Serb civilians were injured in clashes at one gate on 27 September.
With Kosovo-Serbia relations strained, Belgrade pulled out of a scheduled session of its ongoing dialogue with Pristina at the end of the month; it is unclear when the dialogue will resume.
In Guinea, increasing repression and lack of political dialogue mark the build up to December’s legislative elections. Police violently dispersed an opposition demonstration in the capital Conakry on 27 September, leaving three people dead and around 40 injured.
Political violence escalated further in Burundi. At least 39 people were killed in an attack on a bar in Gatumba near the capital on 19 September. National Liberation Forces (FNL) leader Agathon Rwasa accused the government of “genocide” against the FNL, as government forces allegedly target members of the former rebel group.
In Central African Republic, over 49 people were killed in a series of clashes in the diamond-rich town of Bria and its surroundings between the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) rebel groups.
Tensions rose in Bolivia at the end of the month as police forcibly dispersed a group of indigenous marching on La Paz in protest against a planned highway through indigenous territory and a national park. The raid prompted widespread condemnation and nationwide anti-government protests and strikes. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced the police’s use of “excessive and indiscriminate force”.
Politically motivated violence continued to escalate amid allegations FNL members being targeted by govt forces. 5 National Forces of Liberation (FNL) members 1 Sept occupied office of Human Rights Commission claiming their lives in danger, alleged existence of “hit-list” of around 50 FNL members targeted for killing in Kanyosha commune, Bujumbura Rural, traditional FNL stronghold. Former FNL commander Edouard Ruvayanga killed 5 Sept in Bujumbura. Killings of FNL members denounced by rights groups; chairman of Association for Protection of Human Rights and Prisoners (APRODH) claimed knowledge of “safisha” (clean) plan to liquidate FNL. Home of Leonce Ngendakumana, opposition Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) and Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC) chair, searched twice 20 Sept, Ngendakumana questioned in court; home of APRODH leader Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa searched. Mbonimpa summoned to court to explain statements on “safisha” plan. Former FNL leader Agathon Rwasa, in hiding since June 2010, 13 Sept signed memorandum against “genocide” of FNL members by President Nkurunziza’s regime; accused state security forces of massacring, torturing FNL supporters, estimated over 169 killed, 9 missing in 2011. At least 39 people, mostly players/supporters of local football team, killed 19 Sept in attack on bar in Gatumba, near capital, owned by ruling CNDD-FDD member. Bujumbura province governor said attackers from DRC. Congolese military denied, blamed FNL; FNL denied but widely held responsible. President 29 Sept announced several suspects arrested.
President Biya’s bid to extend 29-year presidency in 9 Oct polls confirmed 3 Sept with his official registration as Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) candidate. Electoral commission (ELECAM) 9 Sept disqualified over half of 51 presidential candidates, prompting small demonstrations; Supreme Court 21 Sept ruled 2 disqualified candidates may run. Biya 15 Sept said ELECAM’s independence in polls guaranteed, following opposition complaints over appointment of former CPDM party members to body; opposition 27 Sept demanded resignation of commission member alleged to be campaigning for CPDM. Armed men dressed as soldiers 29 Sept shot weapons in Douala; demanded Biya’s resignation. Disqualified presidential candidate Bertin Kisob reportedly claimed responsibility on behalf of Cameroonian People’s Liberation Army.
Fighting between rebel groups in East rose sharply; series of deadly clashes between Runga-dominated Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and Gula-dominated Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR). Clash 11-14 Sept in central town Bria, diamond mining hub, left at least 43 dead. CPJP 24 Sept ambushed vehicle carrying UFDR rebels, civilians near Bria, killing at least 6 including local official. Tensions remain high. Interior Minister met leaders of both groups late Sept, secured assurances they would negotiate end of hostilities. LRA mid Sept attacked several villages near Bangassou in SE.
Military official 7 Sept said elements of Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) previously stationed in Libya had crossed Chad border with about 100 cars, weapons supplied by Libya. Chad and Sudan continued to coordinate military operations against JEM forces returning to Darfur.
Tensions continued to rise ahead of Nov presidential, legislative elections. Deadly clashes 1 Sept between police and opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) supporters demanding transparent electoral process in Kinshasa and Mbuji May town in South; several injured, 2 reported dead in Mbuji May. Also early Sept attacks on UDPS HQ, ruling Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) HQ, arson of opposition media RTLV. 2 UDPS supporters died 5 Sept in riots in Kinshasa, at least 3 others injured. Congo Liberation Movement (MLC) 8 Sept announced leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, currently on trial at ICC, would not be presidential candidate after ICC refused his provisional release; UDPS leader Tshisekedi 5 Sept officially entered race. Electoral Commission (CENI) 19 Sept reportedly agreed to audit of voter register by UDPS experts, key UDPS prerequisite for signing electoral code of conduct; later qualified agreement saying PPRD would also have to audit, PPRD refused. Planned UDPS march on CENI dispersed 29 Sept by police. 7 Sept armed raid on Kassapa prison in Lubumbashi, Katanga, freed nearly 970 inmates, including Mai Mai militia leader Gideon Kyungu Mutanga. Following peace deal struck in run-up to elections, newly integrated banyamulenge militia Federal Republican Forces (FRF) 12 Sept refused to receive biometric cards, demonstrated in Bukavu with weapons. Former Mai Mai officers protested against ranks given to ex-FRF, threatened to disengage from integration process.
Trial began 5 Sept of Victoire Ingabire, former presidential candidate and leader of UDF-Inkingi opposition party, arrested April 2010, on charges of genocide denial, divisionism, working with terrorist group. Callixte Mbarushimana, executive secretary of Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels, 16 Sept appeared before ICC on charges including 2009 murder, rape of Congolese civilians. French court 28 Sept rejected extradition request for Agathe Habyarimana, widow of ex-president, accused of planning 1994 genocide.
Indications of worsening drought, hunger despite govt assurances of bumper harvest. Govt 9 Sept accused Amnesty International (AI) of plotting popular uprising; AI denied, said authorities guilty of serious rights concerns, called for release of 11 former senior political figures held 10 years without trial.
Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) early Sept claimed it had killed 25 soldiers escorting Chinese oil workers near Jijiga in Ogaden region, warned of more attacks on Chinese-owned companies. Following new anti-terrorism law, authorities 5 Sept announced arrests of 29 people with alleged links to Oromo Liberation Front, including 9 Oromo opposition party members, for plotting bomb attacks; further arrests included senior opposition Medrek official, prominent journalist. Court 8 Sept charged 2 Swedish journalists detained July while accompanying ONLF rebels with promoting terrorism. Govt expelled Amnesty International delegation following meeting with opposition party leaders late Aug. Washington Post 21 Sept reported U.S. building secret drone base in Ethiopia for regional counter-terrorism operations.
2 Rift Valley cabinet ministers, MP, prominent businessman and political activist named during ICC in camera proceedings as part of network headed by suspended higher education minister William Ruto, accused of crimes against humanity. ICC warned it may prosecute MP Charles Keter for intimidation of prosecution witnesses. Somalia’s al-Shabaab believed responsible for 11 Sept killing of UK man and kidnapping of his wife at resort near border. Govt 30 Sept increased border security following clashes between al-Shabaab and Somalian pro-govt militia near Kenyan border (see Somalia).
UN-backed meeting including representatives from Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI), Puntland, Galmudug, pro-govt Ahlu Sunna militia, 6 Sept endorsed roadmap to end transition, restore stability. UN 5 Sept said famine spread to Bay region. Authorities 17 Sept banned foreign aid workers from entering famine-hit areas controlled by al-Shabaab over security concerns. AMISOM peacekeepers 2 Sept shot dead Malaysian journalist in Mogadishu in unknown circumstances, 27 Sept announced deployment of 3,000 extra troops from Djibouti, Sierra Leone. Early-month fighting in Galkayo between Puntland forces and militia from autonomous Galmudug region left at least 27 dead; Puntland security ministry alleged its forces repelled 2-day attack by al-Shabaab militants; Galmudug denied supporting Islamist group, said fighting between 2 sub-clans. Puntland President Mohamud and Galmudug President Alin 5 Sept agreed ceasefire following UN mediation. Unknown gunmen killed Puntland paramilitary commander Mohamed Muse 2 Sept, MP Abdurrahman Hajji 20 Sept. Karkar region 11 Sept declared secession from Puntland, new leader Mohamed Jama said move in response to failure of Puntland authorities in fulfilling mandated duties. Al-Shabaab clashed with pro-govt militia during heavy fighting on Kenyan border in Gedo region, at least 26 killed; 24 Sept claimed it had shot down drone near Kismayo.
4 journalists arrested, govt placed further restrictions on press; Committee to Protect Journalists 12 Sept called on govt to stop harassing journalists, support press freedom. Authorities 23 Sept announced capture of senior al-Shabaab commander Isse Sulub Ige.
Sudan, South Sudan 9 Sept reached agreement to ease border tensions in Abyei (see Sudan). Per unresolved dispute with Khartoum over oil fees, official 9 Sept announced govt intention to pay in arrears for use of Sudan’s oil facilities until parties reach final decision on transit fees. Opposition United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF) head David Biel Jal arrested 2 Sept after criticising composition of new cabinet. Govt 23 Sept re-committed to DDR program, announced plans to demobilise 150,000 soldiers. Signalling persistent North-South tensions, official 24 Sept threatened to close border with Sudan from Dec in retaliation to blockade imposed by Khartoum.
Fears of intensification of fighting in Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) following massive SAF troop, heavy weaponry deployment in area. Reports that militarised elements from Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) joined insurgency in Blue Nile. President Bashir 2 Sept declared state of emergency, sacked elected SPLM-N Governor Malik Agar; UN 14 Sept estimated 100,000 displaced by unrest, said govt denying aid agencies access. In S Kordofan, SAF continued aerial bombardments of Nuba Mountains. In Abyei, AU 9 Sept brokered Sudan-South Sudan deal to ease border tensions, redeploy troops. Authorities 5 Sept banned SPLM-N, detained local leaders; SPLM-N 8 Sept officially split from ruling party in S Sudan SPLM, formed new leadership under Agar, vowed to continue war against Khartoum. Darfur rebel groups SLM-Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW), Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) 4 Sept urged international community to impose no-fly zone, establish humanitarian corridors in Darfur, S Kordofan, Blue Nile. SLM-AW 9 Sept reported it had killed 33 SAF soldiers in Jebel Marra; denied govt claim it abducted foreign aid worker. Amidst clashes with SAF on Chad border, JEM 12 Sept announced return of leader Khalil Ibrahim from exile in Libya, accused Chad of organising joint military operation with SAF. UN-AU SR Ibrahim Gambari 14 Sept announced 70% decrease in number of attacks in Darfur, said international community “frustrated” over lack of participation by SLM-AW in peace process; rebel group denounced statement, said Gambari no longer neutral. Bashir same day appointed Liberation and Equality Movement (LJM) leader Tijani el-Sissi head of Darfur Regional Authority.
Opposition activists 2 Sept postponed planned rally after security forces deployed, banned them from venue. Police 17 Sept arrested author Vincent Nzaramba, alleged his book criticising President Museveni and ruling party is inciting public; later released. Court 14 Sept convicted 2 men over roles in July 2010 Kampala bomb attack. Constitutional Court 22 Sept granted amnesty to ex-LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo.
Amid rising political tensions, police 3 Sept forcibly dispersed rare demonstration against President Dos Santos’s 32 year rule by hundreds of youth; attacked protesters again 8, 24 Sept. Ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola 25 Sept mobilised tens of thousands to march in support for govt.
Apparent breakthrough as SADC negotiators 17 Sept announced all parties signed roadmap for formation of transitional authority, elections within 12 months. But scepticism over whether signatories will respect deal following previous failed agreements, deep mutual mistrust. Deal includes amnesty for ousted president Ravalomana, but Justice Minister 18 Sept said Ravalomana would be imprisoned if he returns.
Increasing concern over intimidation, violence against extra-parliamentary opposition by ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) elements. Minor opposition party Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) early Sept won by-election against DPP; DPP accused AFORD of colluding with Electoral Commission. President Mutharika reshuffled cabinet in perceived effort to consolidate position. Civil society groups waged strike 21 Sept following breakdown of UN-backed talks with govt aimed at ending long-running dispute.
President Mugabe met with European External Action Service managing director for Africa Nick Wescott and U.S. Ambassador Charles Ray during month; positions on sanctions, election monitoring, reforms affirmed by all parties, but talks seen as possible beginning of thaw in relations. ZANU-PF abandoned call for elections in 2011, instead demand polls must be held by March 2012; both MDC factions, other political groupings, dismissed call as unrealistic. Rights group released report documenting over 20 cases of violence, intimidation per day, largely committed by ZANU-PF. Diamond sale plans continued despite late-Aug HRW allegations of human rights violations in Chiadzwa/Marange diamond fields.
PM Guillaume Soro 10 Sept announced parliamentary elections no later than 15 Dec; 11 Sept said his former rebel movement Forces Nouvelles (FN) will join ruling coalition RHDP. 23 killed 16 Sept including 13 civilians in attack on govt troops in Ziriglo, Tai region, near Liberian border, blamed on Liberian mercenaries loyal to former president Gbabgo. Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) 20 Sept suspended participation in Independent Election Commission, criticised ruling party’s refusal to engage in dialogue on security, composition of electoral body, preparations for legislative election. Govt 29 Sept announced polls will be held 11 Dec, opened talks with FPI aimed at securing participation in elections. Truth and Reconciliation Commission inaugurated 28 Sept to address abuses during post-election violence.
Increased govt repression of opposition ahead of Dec legislative elections amid concerns over lack of political dialogue over preparation for polls. 27 Sept opposition demonstration declared illegal by govt, repressed by police; at least 3 killed, around 40 injured in clashes. Police 28 Sept raided opposition strongholds, arrested dozens in capital. Electoral commission 15 Sept announced elections will take place 29 Dec; followed criticism of official silence on opposition demands regarding registration, organisation of polls. President Condé 11 Sept publicly implicated civilians linked to Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, and former transition president General Sékouba Konaté, in 19 July attack on his residence; accused Senegal, Gambia of complicity.
Roberto Cacheu, PM Gomes’s main opponent within ruling African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), 8 Sept received 3 year suspension from party for claiming Gomes implicated in 2009 killing of several politicians. Senegal and G-B 17 Sept agreed to joint border patrols in response to banditry, Casamance separatism. President Sanha 23 Sept denied Navy chief of staff Bubo na Tchuto had reservations concerning security sector reform (SSR), reiterated call for donor support; CPLP and ECOWAS failed to reach agreement on implementation of SSR roadmap.
Concern over viability of elections continued; co-Chair of National Elections Commission 2 Sept said time, logistical challenges will prevent organisation of presidential, legislative polls in Oct. ECOWAS leaders 10 Sept met in Abuja to discuss Liberia-Côte d’Ivoire border security; authorities announced seizure of “worrisome” amount of arms, ammunition in border area, requested UN intensify monitoring of border zone. UNSC 17 Sept extended peacekeeping mission another year.
Libyan troops and about 2,000 Tuareg fighters allied with former Libyan leader Qaddafi entering Niger and Mali from 30 Aug, sparking fears of further influx, regional instability. 200-250 vehicles reported 5 Sept crossing border; authorities 7 Sept confirmed presence in Niamey of Qaddafi security chief Mansour Daw, whose troops ran Qaddafi family security. Govt denied presence of Qaddafi, later confirmed arrival of son Saadi, will not extradite to Libya; called for international help to secure Libyan border.
Boko Haram continued attacks on police stations and bank robberies in Maiduguri, Borno state and Bauchi state. Boko Haram 1 Sept named Mohammed Abul Barra responsible for 26 Aug UN bombing; State Security Service 18 Sept said Mamman Nur, lead Boko Haram figure, masterminded bombing. 6 suspected Boko Haram members arrested after bomb-making factory discovered 6 Sept near Abuja. As part of peace initiative former president Obasanjo 15 Sept visited family of former Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf, slain in police custody Dec 2009; gunmen 17 Sept killed Obasanjo’s host, Yusuf’s brother-in-law; Boko Haram denied responsibility. Violence between Muslim and Christian youth gangs continued in central city Jos, including 1 Sept clash in which at least 23 killed. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 7 Sept cleared first lady Patience Jonathan of money laundering totalling $13.5mn.
Violent incidents highlighted potential for unrest ahead of 2012 polls. Internal Affairs Minister Musa Tarawallie’s security entourage 3 Sept shot at youths in Koidu, Kono district, allegedly on his orders. President Koroma condemned incident, ordered investigation. Police 9 Sept responded to violence in Bo between supporters of ruling All People’s Congress and opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) with tear gas, live ammunition; clashes occurred during visit of SLPP candidate Julius Maada Bio to area. Police 22 Sept announced ban on all political rallies; SLPP condemned ban. UNIPSIL Head of Mission Michael von der Schulenburg warned of risks surrounding elections, called for parties to reach agreement on legal framework, code of conduct. UNSC extended UNIPSIL mandate to Sept 2012.
4 Uighur men sentenced to death 14 Sept for role in killings during late July violence in Xinjiang province; 2 others jailed for 19 years. Uighur exile groups claim defendants tortured into giving confessions. Xinjiang official said militant groups responsible for July violence were home-grown, contradicting earlier claim by foreign-based Xinjiang-independence group East Turkistan Islamic Movement that they were behind attacks.
Increased speculation over possible resumption of long-stalled 6-party talks following recent interactions between N and S Korea. Nuclear envoys from DPRK and ROK 21 Sept met in Beijing for 2nd time in 2 months to discuss talks; unable to reach agreement on return to talks, but said meeting useful. Chinese FM Yang Jiechi 19 Sept called for resumption of talks, however negotiators from ROK, U.S, Japan, Russia, absent from 19 Sept Beijing forum intended to pave way for resumption. In sign of possible reconciliation, South replaced its minister of unification early Sept. IAEA General Conference 19-24 Sept unanimously adopted resolution urging DPRK not to carry out further nuclear tests. Reports emerged N Korea late Aug conducted large scale military exercise off west coast. ROK intelligence service 16 Sept detained man for allegedly plotting to assassinate ROK anti-DPRK activist.
Chinese FM Yang Jiechi 26 Sept met with U.S. Sec State Clinton in New York, urged U.S. to reconsider decision to upgrade Taiwan’s F-16 jet fighter fleet.
Increase in insurgent attacks, including 20 Sept assassination of Chairman of Afghan High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani while meeting Taliban envoys, amid fears of further escalation ahead of Istanbul and Bonn conferences aimed at strengthening international support. President Karzai 1 Oct said govt to abandon peace talks with Taliban, focus on dialogue with Pakistan. Insurgents 14 Sept conducted 20-hour attack on U.S. embassy and NATO HQ in Kabul leaving 27 dead, including 11 civilians, 5 police, 11 insurgents. Officials blamed Taliban-linked Haqqani Network; U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen 22 Sept accused Pakistan of backing attack. Senior Haqqani leader Haji Mali Khan captured by security forces in Paktia province 1 Oct. Suicide bomb 11 Sept on military base in E Wardak province injured 89 U.S. troops, killed 2 civilians. Roadside bomb 27 Sept killed at least 16 people in Herat province. NATO 6 Sept suspended transfer of detainees to several Afghan jails following UN torture allegations. Human Rights Watch alleged Afghanistan militias, police committing serious abuses.
Police 19 Sept fired rubber bullets to disperse supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami party protesting continued detention of 5 senior leaders on war crimes charges. Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party 22 Sept led one-day strike over rising fuel prices. Bangladesh and India 6 Sept agreed deal allowing integration of some Bangladeshi and Indian enclaves, with residents allowed right to decide on nationality, but failed to agree on sharing water, Indian overland access across Bangladesh to N-E Indian states.
11 people killed, over 60 injured 7 Sept by bomb outside high court in Delhi; Home Minister said attack likely carried out by India-based terror group. PM Singh 6 Sept signed series of protocols during historic visit to Bangladesh.
Indian army 26-30 Sept clashed with militants in Kupwara district; 4 security personnel, 5 militants reported killed. Indian forces 1 Sept killed 3 Pakistani soldiers in firing across Line of Control. Pakistan army accused Indian forces of “unprovoked” attack; India denied, said Pakistani forces opened fire first. Locals 15 Sept protested over renewed militant activity in Neelum Valley.
New PM Bhattarai urged major opposition parties Nepali Congress (NC) and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF)-Nepal to join govt; 16 Sept in first public address said nation has reached “last chance” for peace, called for political cooperation, 28 Sept threatened resignation if no progress. Self-imposed 45-day deadline to proceed on integration, rehabilitation of Maoist army combatants unlikely to be met; conflicts remain within all major parties. Section of United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), NC and United Marxist Leninist Party criticised March power sharing deal between Madhesi and Maoist parties; Defence Minister Bhandari sparked row by allegedly warning that Tarai districts could secede if their concerns not addressed.
Further deterioration in U.S.-Pakistan relations following attack in Kabul by suspected Haqqani Network (see Afghanistan): U.S. ambassador 17 Sept warned Pakistan to stop supporting group; U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen 22 Sept said Haqqani acting as “veritable arm” of Inter-Services Intelligence Agency. U.S. Senate appropriations committee same day voted to make $1bn in aid for Pakistan conditional on action against militant groups. In Quetta, army 5 Sept announced arrest of senior al-Qaeda leader Younis al-Mauritani. Suspected U.S. drone strike 12 Sept reportedly killed 2 militants in N Waziristan including Haqqani militant network commander; U.S. mid-month announced senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Hafs al-Shahri killed in Waziristan. Pakistani troops 18 Sept clashed with Tehreek-e-Taliban fighters in S Waziristan over remains of crashed U.S. drone. Continued insurgent attacks: at least 20 killed in 7 Sept suicide bomb attack on residence of Frontier Corps commander Farrukh Shahzad. Suicide bombing reportedly targeting anti-Taliban militia 15 Sept killed 20 people in Lower Dir in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa near Afghan border. Car bomb 19 Sept outside house of senior Karachi police officer killed at least 8. Roadside bomb 22 Sept targeting anti-Taliban militia in NW killed 5. Gunmen 13 Sept ambushed school bus in Peshawar, killing at least 5 children. Militants 30 Sept kidnapped 34 labourers in Khyber.
Despite formal end of emergency on 30 Aug, key emergency regulations reintroduced under Prevention of Terrorism Act. President Rajapaksa 6 Sept invoked Public Security Ordinance to grant police powers to military. UNSG Ban 12 Sept formally transmitted panel of experts report on accountability for war crimes to president of HRC; no action taken after strong SL govt protest on procedural grounds. U.S. Asst. Sec State Blake 14 Sept called for credible, independent war crimes investigation; refrained from endorsing action by HRC. Ban 24 Sept after meeting with Rajapaksa called for “credible national accountability process”. U.S. court 23 Sept filed summons against Major Gen Shavendra Silva, former military commander and current UN envoy, following civil suit by relatives of Tamils killed in final stages of 2009 war; Silva said prepared to fight charges. Govt protested summons at UN, asserted diplomatic immunity for Silva, dismissed charges. Talks between govt and Tamil National Alliance party restarted 16 Sept after pressure from U.S., India. Govt 21 Sept announced Menik Farm refugee camp will close by early Oct; 7,400 remaining refugees to be sent to areas of newly-cleared jungle rather than home villages in areas of final battles of civil war, location of alleged war crimes. 1,800 Tamil Tiger fighters released 30 Sept as part of reintegration process.
Major eruption of communal violence in Ambon, Maluku 11 Sept, sparked by death previous day of Muslim motorcyclist in Christian area, leaving 8 dead; 159 houses burned, 4,000 displaced; city remains tense. President Yudhoyono late Sept set up new unit on Papua to accelerate development, address political concerns. Mob 3 Sept stoned West Lombok district police HQ following Aug arrest of 2 people accused of torching mining facilities; police fired at protesters, killing 1. 1 killed, several injured in 25 Sept suicide bombing at church in Central Java; radical websites suggested bombing response to Ambon violence.
PM Razak, criticised for harsh police actions against opposition street protesters in July, 15 Sept pledged to abolish Internal Security Act used to detain suspected militants and state dissidents without trial; also said strict media laws to be relaxed.
Continued signs of improvements in political freedoms, human rights, economic reforms, reflected in positive political developments, increased international engagement. Govt 5 Sept formed National Human Rights Commission, made up mainly of retired govt officials, former diplomats, including some members from ethnic, religious minorities. Myanmar journal 5 Sept published uncensored article by Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK), first to be published domestically for 23 years. ASSK 15 Sept told supporters she believes “now is a situation where changes are likely to take place”. Authorities removed blocks on international news websites. President Thein Sein 30 Sept announced suspension of controversial hydroelectric dam construction in Kachin state. Newly-confirmed U.S. Special Representative for Burma Derek Mitchell 9-14 Sept visited Myanmar, met ministers, house speakers, ASSK and other opposition members, civil society. FM Wunna Maung Lwin 29 Sept held talks in Washington with senior U.S. officials. Following 2-day visit EU aid chief Kristalina Georgieva indicated she had obtained commitments on improving humanitarian access. Government 8 Sept signed preliminary peace agreements with Wa and Mongla armed groups. Situation in other ethnic areas remained tense; renewed clashes 23 Sept between govt troops and Kachin Independence Army in northern Shan State.
No date set for next meeting of govt and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); Malaysian facilitator trying to narrow gap between draft proposals. MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim 5 Sept criticised govt for not addressing political roots of conflict; rebel website 15 Sept announced rogue commander Ameril Umbra Kato given until 26 Sept to return to MILF. Kato’s fighters and MILF clashed mid-month in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, leaving 4 dead, thousands evacuated. 2 bombings in Cotabato City 13 Sept during visit of govt official; 3rd bomb discovered next day. Military 11 Sept stepped up offensive against Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu and Basilan, killing several. Army 25 Sept said 13 rebels, 3 civilians and 2 soldiers killed in clash in Talipano, Sulu. More than 100 communist New People’s Army guerrillas 12 Sept attacked police station in Hinabangan, Samar; peace talks remain stalled. Tensions in South China Sea (SCS) remained high; President Aquino 3 Sept completed first state visit to China, issued joint statement with President Hu Jintao reiterating commitment to address disputes through dialogue, strengthen trade ties. During visit to Japan Aquino 27 Sept met PM Yoshihiko Noda, seeking Japan’s backing in SCS dispute.
Head of armed forces Taur Matan Ruak resigned 2 Sept after 10 years in role; presumed first move towards announcing candidacy for March 2012 presidential polls.
Deputy PM Chalerm 8 Sept said Pheu Thai Party would seek to clear name of ousted PM Thaksin, sentenced in absentia to 2 years in prison for conflict of interest charges; speculation mounted that Thaksin might be granted royal pardon. PM Yingluck 5 Sept visited Cambodia, discussed long-standing dispute over Preah Vihear temple for first time since election of new govt, stated Thailand would comply with ICJ order to withdraw troops from designated “provisional demilitarised zone”, welcomed Indonesian observers. Yingluck’s brother Thaksin arrived in Cambodia 2 days later to attend conference, met with Red Shirt leaders. In insurgency-ravaged South, 6 killed, over 100 injured in series of bomb explosions 16 Sept in Sungai Golok border district in Narathiwat; security forces believe attack response to suppression of drug smuggling. 4 soldiers escorting govt teachers shot dead 28 Sept in ambush in Narathiwat. Amnesty International accused southern insurgents of targeting civilians, committing war crimes.
Ahead of anniversary of Oct 2010 general elections, still no progress by 6 main parties towards forming a governing coalition. European Commission considering reallocating €96mn pre-accession assistance due to disagreement between Bosnia’s 2 entities on how to spend money. Some progress made on resolving issues crucial for EU accession process, including military property, state aid law, census law.
Tensions remain high in north, with outbreak of violence between NATO forces and Kosovo Serbs, who continue to reject presence of Kosovo customs officers at gates 1 and 31 between Kosovo and Serbia. Despite Serbian request to UNSC to prevent Pristina taking control of border points, EULEX 16 Sept deployed customs and border officers with Kosovo “supervisors” to gates, protected by KFOR forces. EULEX, EU, NATO, U.S. gave support for Pristina. Brussels and Pristina presented move as implementation of technical agreement on customs stamps reached 2 Sept as part of ongoing EU-mediated Pristina-Belgrade dialogue; Belgrade denied agreement touched on gates. Serbs responded by erecting roadblocks at both gates and throughout north, using illegal alternative crossing points; 4 KFOR soldiers, several Serb civilians injured during clashes at border post 27 Sept. EULEX arrested 2 Serbs suspected of shooting at house of Serb Kosovo police officer 20 Sept. Belgrade calling on Serbs to protest peacefully. Amid strained Pristina-Belgrade relations, Belgrade pulled out of 7th scheduled dialogue session in Brussels 28 Sept, after saying it would only discuss border situation; unclear when dialogue will resume. Constitutional court 20 Sept ruled Kosovo deputies’ immunity limited to official acts and duties, plenary sessions of Assembly.
Following opposition Armenian National Congress’s (HAK) late Aug suspension of its participation in dialogue with govt to protest detention of one of its youth activists, govt said it does not intend to expedite activist’s release. Fears that dialogue in danger of collapse. Thousands attended 9 Sept HAK rally; HAK 30 Sept called for “nonstop rallies”. President Sargysyan addressing UNGA blamed Azerbaijan for lack of progress in Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations, accused Turkey of obstructing normalisation of Armenia-Turkey relations.
Lawyer defending 4 opposition activists jailed in Aug for involvement in April anti-govt protests disbarred 16 Sept for breaking “ethics rules for lawyers”. Senior Council of Europe official criticised Azerbaijan’s human rights record.
No improvement in relations with Russia; President Saakashvili’s 22 Sept speech at UNGA criticizing Russia’s Georgia policy and “terrorist acts” met with hostile rhetoric from Moscow. Russia’s state Duma 22 Sept ratified military treaties with breakaway Georgian regions of Sukhumi and Tskhinvali. Fifth round of Swiss-mediated talks over Russia’s WTO entry failed to yield result. European Court of Human Rights 22 Sept held hearing of application lodged by Georgia against Russia in connection with Aug 2008 war, alleging Russian military and separatist forces carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians in breakaway republics; Russia dismissed allegations. Parliament released draft of new electoral code drafted by ruling United National Movement, which says it reflects provisions of reform deal reached late June with 2 of 8 opposition parties. 15 opposition supporters jailed 8 Sept for forming illegal armed group to help return fugitive former defence minister Irakli Okruashvili to Georgia during May anti-govt protests.
De facto Nagorno-Karabakh authorities 14 Sept alleged they downed an Azerbaijani drone, calling it “serious ceasefire violation”. First report of downing of an air target since 1994 truce; Azerbaijan denied reports. De facto N-K officials called on OSCE to expand monitoring of line of contact. Incident comes 6 months after Azerbaijani-Israeli joint venture began assembling Israeli-designed drones for Azerbaijan armed forces; Azerbaijan has also reportedly purchased such aircraft from Israel, Turkey. During military parade marking 20th anniversary of independence, Armenia 21 Sept displayed first-ever Armenian-made drones. Speculation by Armenian, Azerbaijani sources on meaning of reported statement by Uruguay’s FM that country, which is home to influential Armenian diaspora community, should recognise N-K as independent .
Increase in attacks in Dagestan, including 1 police killed, 60 people including police, civilians injured in 2 car bomb attacks in Makhachkala 22 Sept; 1 police, 5 civilians killed in explosion in Levashi district 28 Sept; deputy regional penitentiary service chief Magomed Murtuzaliyev and his daughter, nephew and driver killed by gunmen 23 Sept; imam of village in Buinaksk district shot dead 15 Sept. Attacks also in other republics, including powerful explosions (no casualties) and several suspected militants killed in Ingushetia. Kavkazsky Uzel 14 Sept reported at least 593 people killed, 414 wounded in NC conflict in 2011, mostly in Dagestan. Russian National Antiterrorist Committee official 8 Sept announced introduction of counter-terrorism regime in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria, operations in all 3 republics. Washington think-tank late month reported insurgents receiving support from al-Qaeda. NGO Reporters Without Borders 14 Sept reported freedom of press in NC diminished since 2009, worst in Chechnya and Ingushetia. 3 Chechens reportedly linked to warlord Doku Umarov killed in Istanbul 16 Sept. EU counterterrorism coordinator Gilles De Kerchove said EU to investigate possible link between NC diaspora in member states and recruitment of jihadist fighters, financing of terrorist activities. Russian nationalist groups 28 Sept announced campaign for reduction of budget for NC.
President Lukashenka pardoned over a dozen opposition activists jailed for involvement in Dec 2010 post-election protests. Bulgaria reported Belarusian pledge to release all political prisoners by mid-Oct. Opposition activist jailed 13 Sept for 10 days for role in unsanctioned Aug protest. UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay called on Belarus to release political prisoners, allow visit by UN rights mission. At Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw end-month, EU further condemned govt crackdown on opposition. Currency fell 38% against dollar mid month. Parliament announced $1bn Chinese loan plus grant, investments. Govt denied reports Belarus is supplying Iran with missiles, nuclear technology.
PM Filat and leader of breakaway Transdnistria region Igor Smirnov met in Germany 9 Sept under auspices of OSCE on ending 20-year conflict, first such talks since 2006. Sides 22 Sept announced official talks to resolve conflict to resume in “5+2” format, involving 2 sides plus Russia, Ukraine, U.S., EU, OSCE.
8 suspected members of dissident splinter group arrested following raids uncovering ammunition, bomb-making material.
Escalated tensions between Greek Cypriots and Turkey as controversial drilling for gas by U.S. company began south of Cyprus 19 Sept, despite repeated warnings by Turkey drilling would significantly damage peace process. EU and U.S. support Cyprus’s right to explore in area. Following reunification talks meeting between Greek Cypriot president Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Eroglu, UN envoy Alexander Downer 27 Sept urged both sides to exercise restraint; Eroglu said drilling not discussed at meeting. Turkey responded by hiring Norwegian research vessel to conduct oil and gas research in E Mediterranean. Turkish deputy PM 17 Sept said country would freeze relations with EU if and when Cyprus is given rotating EU presidency in 2012, as set to happen.
Heightened tensions between PKK and military, which last month began launching air strikes and firing artillery against suspected PKK bases in northern Iraq in retaliation for recent escalation of insurgent attacks. Ankara threatened to carry out ground operation despite opposition from Iraq’s regional Kurdish govt. Car bombing 20 Sept killed 3, wounded 34 in Ankara; PKK-offshoot Kurdistan Freedom Falcons claimed responsibility, PKK denied any role. PM Erdoğan 24 Sept said U.S. agreed in principle to provide Predator drones to Turkey to aid fight against PKK. Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BPD) 27 Sept ended 4-month parliamentary boycott. UN report into May 2010 deadly raid on Gaza-bound protest flotilla published 2 Sept, found Israel used excessive force but blockade of Gaza legal; after report failed to trigger Israeli apology Turkey expelled Israel’s envoy, froze military cooperation. FM Davutoğlu 3 Sept said Turkey will challenge Israel’s blockade on Gaza at ICJ. PM Erdoğan 23 Sept said Turkey had imposed arms embargo on Syria for regime’s crackdown on its people, had already stopped Syrian-flagged ship; said he had “cut all contact” with regime.
Amid fears of rising Islamic extremism President Nazarbayev 1 Sept called for new law on religious activity; parliament 29 Sept passed controversial bill forcing religious organisations to dissolve, re-register; rights groups criticised move as limit on religious freedom. Almaty court 15 Sept ordered removal of broadcast antennas from office of independent station Stan-TV over “health risks”. Military participated in Collective Security Treaty Organisation exercises (see Tajikistan).
Month saw continued tensions in Osh ahead of Oct presidential elections. Trial resumed 16 Sept of 6 ethnic Uzbeks on charges of inciting interethnic hatred, organising June 2010 clashes between local Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in Jalal-Abad and Osh. PM Atambayev 23 Sept announced resignation, launched presidential campaign. Authorities proposed restrictions on foreign news broadcasts during election campaign. Military participated in Collective Security Treaty Organisation exercises (see Tajikistan). Interior Ministry announced 17 people detained over murder of former presidential chief of staff Medet Sadyrkulov.
Govt 2 Sept announced 49-year extension of Russian military presence, lease of military base, anti-drug cooperation. Tajikistan hosted large scale Collective Security Treaty Organisation exercises with Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan in preparation for hypothetical conflict, social unrest. Tajik Islamist group Jamaat Ansarullah early Sept released video threatening govt forces, “non-believers”; group’s existence refuted by security forces.
EU 16 Sept agreed to negotiate natural gas deal between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan aimed at building Caspian Sea pipeline to Europe, despite opposition from Russia, Iran.
President Karimov 1 Sept pledged economic, political reforms, democratic renewal. U.S. Congress 22 Sept suspended restrictions on military aid to Uzbekistan. Founder of opposition People’s Movement of Uzbekistan assassinated in Russia 24 Sept. FM Elyor Ganiev 26 Sept told UNGA ethnic tensions between Uzbeks, Kyrgyz will continue until full investigation into 2010 violence in Kyrgyzstan.
After weeks of protests against highway construction through indigenous territory and national park, tensions rose following 25 Sept clash as police forcibly dispersed protesters, resulting in several wounded, 1 child allegedly dead, hundreds detained. Interior, defence ministers resigned; attorney general’s office announced investigation against former interior minister. President Morales 26 Sept suspended construction, condemned police action, proposed referendum in affected regions on road. Nationwide anti-govt protests and strikes 27, 28 Sept, indigenous groups said will resume protest march on La Paz 1 Oct. OHCHR 29 Sept condemned “excessive and indiscriminate force” against protesters.
Against backdrop of deteriorating security indicators, President Santos’s chief of staff and ally Juan Carlos Pinzon appointed as defence minister 31 Aug, replacing Rodrigo Rivera; entire military high command also replaced. Senator Roy Barreras 12 Sept presented constitutional reform project to Congress providing transitional justice framework for future demobilisation of illegal armed groups, including political rights for former combatants after serving alternative sentences; Santos welcomed initiative. Supreme Court 14 Sept sentenced former director of presidential security under Uribe, Jorge Noguera, to 25 years prison for collaboration with paramilitary leaders and homicide, passing on confidential information; 2 senior officials still under investigation. 7 people including 1 counsellor killed, 1 official kidnapped 25 Sept by unidentified armed group in Tumaco town. U.S. State Department 15 Sept declared Colombia met statutory criteria related to human rights, released military funding.
Sucumbíos court 8 Sept issued arrest warrants for 6 Colombian military and police officials including current head of police linked to 2008 bombing of FARC camp in Ecuador, after they failed to appear for 5 Sept hearing. Appeal court 20 Sept ratified controversial 3-year jail sentence and $40mn fine imposed on El Universo newspaper executives and former columnist for libel, following suit filed by President Correa in March.
U.S. 8 Sept accused 4 senior Venezuelan officials of supporting FARC rebels; govt dismissed accusations. Inter American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) 16 Sept ordered Venezuelan election officials to restore political rights of former mayor Leopoldo López, suspended from holding office by Venezuelan authorities in 2008, to allow him to run for Feb 2012 opposition primary elections; Chávez dismissed ruling. National Electoral Council 13 Sept moved date for presidential elections from Dec 2012 to Oct 2012. NGO Venezuela Observatory for Violence reported Aug most violent month of year.
Amid deteriorating security and continued violence, retired general Otto Perez Molina won 36% of votes in 11 Sept presidential elections; will face businessman Manuel Baldizon, who won 23%, in 6 Nov run-off. Observers rated elections as fair, despite concern over delay in releasing preliminary results, reports of irregularities in some regions. Outbreaks of violence in 70 municipalities by residents unhappy over mayoral election results, leaving 2 dead in Jalapa.
Progress on nomination of new PM and selection of cabinet, as Chamber of Deputies 19 Sept unanimously approved President Martelly’s 3rd nominee for PM Garry Conille, despite questions over constitutionality of his candidacy. Concerns raised by parliamentarians and legal experts over Martelly’s unilateral designation of Directors General of some public institutions. Controversy over MINUSTAH as Uruguayan President apologised for alleged rape of Haitian male by 4 Uruguayan peacekeepers at UN base; UN began review of enforcement of zero-tolerance policy. Violent student protests in Port-au-Prince calling for withdrawal of MINUSTAH troops, also protests in Port Salut. Senate 18 Sept passed resolution for MINUSTAH’s withdrawal in 3 years and formation of a new army. National Defence and Security Committee 22 Sept presented preliminary strategy for creation of 3,500-strong army beginning 2012. Addressing UNGA 23 Sept Martelly said continued MINUSTAH presence needed. Increased fears over decline in security; former central chief of Judiciary Police Jean Denis Fortin found shot dead 3 Sept, public notary Emile Giordani kidnapped and killed late Aug.
49 bodies of alleged members of Los Zetas cartel found in Veracruz state 20, 22 Sept; officials believe attack carried out by New Generation gang, challenging Zetas, Golfo and Familia Michoacana cartels. Newspaper editor Maria Macias found decapitated in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state 24 Sept; officials say Macias killed for using social media to report on drug violence. 140 Acapulco schools closed over month as teachers went on strike over security threats. 5 severed heads found outside Acapulco primary school 27 Sept. Police officer arrested 1 Sept in connection with late Aug arson attack on casino in Monterrey; dozens of suspected Zeta members arrested mid Sept in Hidalgo state. Campaign began for July 2012 presidential elections; former governor of Mexico State Enrique Peña Nieto seeking nomination of opposition Partido Revolucionario Institucional.
PA President Abbas 23 Sept submitted Palestinian application for full UN membership to UNSG Ban; Hamas rejected UN move as “begging” for statehood. Israeli PM Netanyahu said peace can be achieved only through direct talks. Sporadic clashes 23 Sept between Palestinian protesters and Israeli military in E Jerusalem and West Bank. Quartet urged return to peace talks with aim of deal by end-2012; Abbas 26 Sept repeated refusal to talk without Israeli settlement freeze. UNSC president 28 Sept referred Palestine’s application to special committee that deals with admission of new members. EU, U.S. 28 Sept condemned Israeli plans for construction of 1,100 new housing units in occupied E Jerusalem as counterproductive to negotiations on peace talks. UN report into May 2010 deadly raid on Gaza-bound protest flotilla published 2 Sept, found Israel used excessive force but blockade of Gaza legal (see Turkey). Rioters 9 Sept ransacked Israeli embassy in Egypt, forced evacuation of staff (see Egypt).
Weekly protests for political and economic reform continued across country, though turnout fairly low. Police prevented 4 Sept protest outside Bahrain embassy against unconfirmed presence of Jordanian armed forces in Bahrain. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) 11 Sept discussed admission of Jordan, approved grant of $2bn. FM Judeh 14 Sept said Jordan supports Palestinian drive for recognition at UN but prefers negotiations toward creation of Palestinian state (see Israel/OPT).
Patriarch Beshara Rai 10 Sept said Syrian President Assad should be given chance to implement reforms; later claimed statements taken out of context. UNDP 17 Sept said Lebanon hosting nearly 4,000 Syrian refugees following govt crackdown on anti-regime protests. Wikileaks cable released 10 Sept quoted President Mikati describing Hizbollah as “tumour” needing removal. UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) 9 Sept named 3 judges for first trial chamber, effective 20 Sept. FM Mansour 5 Sept warned UN Israel’s proposed sea border threatens peace and security in region. Military court 4 Sept sentenced Brig. Gen. Karam to 2 years hard labour for collaborating with Israel.
UN reports military crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people during continued nationwide uprising against Assad regime. Tanks pounded towns in central region of Homs, major flashpoint between troops loyal to President Assad and army defectors. Syrian authorities claim 700 police and army killed during unrest by “terrorists” and “mutineers”. At least 200 opposition members gathered 16 Sept in meeting of National Co-ordinating body outside Damascus. Group of activists 16 Sept formed Syrian National Council in Istanbul, marking 6 month anniversary of beginning of uprising. UNSG Ban 15 Sept said Assad has repeatedly broken promises of reform, called for international action. OHCHR 23 Sept alarmed by “increasingly brutal crackdown”, urged UNSC to refer Syria to ICC. Turkey 23 Sept imposed arms embargo against Syria for brutal crackdown on pro-democracy uprising; EU increased sanctions primarily on oil sector. U.S. Ambassador Ford mobbed by Assad supporters 29 Sept while visiting opposition figure in Damascus; officials accused U.S. of interference, inciting violence against security forces.
Almost daily anti-govt protests around country suppressed by security forces. Parliamentary by-elections 24 Sept to replace 18 opposition deputies marred by violent clashes between protesters and security forces. Shiite opposition groups boycotted polls, turnout only 17.4%. Second round 1 Oct in 9 districts where no candidate received 50% of vote. Man sentenced to death 29 Sept for running over policeman during protests, another jailed for life; 20 doctors jailed 5-15 years for, among other charges, forcefully occupying hospital during protests.
Head of Iran’s atomic energy agency 5 Sept offered to allow international inspectors “full supervision” of country’s nuclear activities for next 5 years, but on condition sanctions are lifted. First nuclear power plant, Russian-built Bushehr, officially launched 12 Sept, will begin full operations Dec. President Ahmadinejad at UNGA 22 Sept sought to revive 2009 nuclear swap offer, said Tehran would stop producing 20% enriched uranium if guaranteed fuel for medical research reactor; U.S dismissed offer. 2 U.S. citizens jailed Aug for spying released 21 Sept on bail, allowed to return home. Military 2 Sept resumed operations against Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) militants along Iraqi border, military official 5 Sept said at least 30 militants killed. PJAK called immediate, unilateral ceasefire and for negotiations; Iran rejected call.
President Barzani of federal Kurdistan region 6 Sept said Iraq needs U.S. military presence beyond year-end withdrawal for fear of civil war. Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr 11 Sept called on his followers to halt attacks on U.S. troops unless they remain after scheduled withdrawal. FM Zebari 21 Sept said Iraq will need U.S. trainers even after combat troops withdraw, ruled out any renewal of 2008 troop agreement. Thousands of al-Sadr’s followers 16 Sept demonstrated for govt to provide more electricity, jobs. More than 15 killed, 80 wounded 25 Sept in 4 successive explosions in Karbala; no immediate claim of responsibility. Head of leading anti-corruption body Judge al-Uqaili resigned 8 Sept over govt failure to act on corruption.
King Abdullah 25 Sept announced women would be given right to vote in 2015 and stand in municipal elections. Trial of 41 al-Qaeda suspects began 18 Sept, charged with planning attacks against U.S. military bases in Qatar and Kuwait.
Country on verge of full-scale war between security forces loyal to President Saleh and forces loyal to opposition. Prospects of peaceful transition buttressed 12 Sept when Saleh issued decree authorising deputy to negotiate revised Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative; but several sticking points with opposition remain including timing of Saleh’s resignation. UN Special Envoy Benomar and GCC Sec. Gen. visited Sanaa to broker agreement backed by U.S., Saudi Arabia. However, violence exploded 18 Sept in Sanaa as regime forces launched brutal crackdown on protest camps, over 26 protesters killed. In worst fighting since March forces loyal to Ali Mohsen engaged in battles with pro-Saleh force in capital; over 100 people killed, mainly unarmed protesters. Saleh returned to Yemen 19 Sept from treatment in Saudi Arabia after June assassination attempt; 25 Sept called for early elections, made no pledge to step down. Defence Minister Ali 27 Sept survived suicide bomb attack in southern city Aden. Fighting continued in south between Islamist militants, army and allied tribesmen in Abyan province. U.S.-born radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki killed 30 Sept in U.S. drone strike in Jawf province.
Libyan officials 25 Sept said gunmen loyal to Muammar Gaddafi crossed into Libya from Algeria and killed at least 6 people. At least 5 al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb militants killed 26 Sept near Boumerdes. Cabinet 12 Sept approved several reform measures promised by President Bouteflika in April, including partial privatisation of broadcast media, strengthening press freedoms. At Sahel security summit in Algiers, FMs agreed to strengthen security and development coordination; for first time joined by U.S., EU, UN.
Demonstration 9 Sept in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to speed up political reforms and end emergency law turned violent as thousands attacked Israeli embassy; 3 protesters killed, over 1,000 injured in clashes with police. Ruling Military Council reactivated emergency law after attack on embassy, 21 Sept said law will remain in place until 30 June 2012; activists and politicians condemned decision. PM Sharaf 15 Sept said peace deal with Israel not “sacred”; Israeli PM Netanyahu said treaty is anchor of regional stability. Military Council 27 Sept set 28 Nov as date for start of parliamentary elections for lower house, 22 Jan for upper house; registration to start 12 Oct. Almost 60 political parties from across political spectrum 28 Sept threatened to boycott polls unless military council amend election law by 2 Oct. Former Trade Minister Rachid and former Information Minister el-Fikky sentenced to 15, 7 years jail for graft. Gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan attacked 27 Sept in N Sinai; 6th attack on pipeline since Mubarak’s ouster.
Month saw heavy fighting between Transitional National Council (TNC) forces and pro-Qaddafi fighters in Bani Walid and Sirte following breakdown in negotiations; TNC 21 Sept seized Qaddafi stronghold of Sabha. ICRC 14 Sept said 13 mass graves discovered containing executed rebels. Convoy carrying heavily-armed pro-Qaddafi forces 2 Sept crossed into Niger, followed by former security chief Mansour Dao 6 Sept; TNC called on Niger to stop giving refuge to fleeing officials. Former PM Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi arrested in Tunisia 21 Sept; TNC requested extradition. TNC PM Mahmoud Jibril 10 Sept arrived in Tripoli for first time since fall of Qaddafi, appealed for unity and forgiveness; TNC head Mustafa Abdul Jalil 13 Sept called on Libyans to reject retribution, said TNC would not accept extremist ideologies. French President Sarkozy 1 Sept announced collective unfreezing of $15bn of Libyan assets during Paris conference; Jalil promised new constitution, elections within 18 months. British PM Cameron and Sarkozy 15 Sept visited Tripoli, met TNC leaders. UNGA 16 Sept accepted TNC credentials, partially lifted sanctions; UNSC 17 Sept adopted Resolution 2009 authorizing deployment of UN support mission to Libya for 3 months. NATO 21 Sept extended Libyan mandate for 90 days. International Organization for Migration 8 Sept said up to 300 black Africans crossing into Niger every day due to systematic targeting by TNC forces on suspicion of fighting for Qaddafi.
President Abdel Aziz 17 Sept launched national dialogue between political parties; 10 opposition parties boycotted talks. 1 killed 27 Sept in clashes between police and demonstrators at rallies against national census; rights groups claim census excludes minorities, called for its suspension. Abdel Aziz 14 Sept claimed Libyan weapons now in hands of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Security forces 19 Sept arrested 3 Algerian AQIM suspects on border with Mali. High Authority for Press and Broadcasting promised to allow private broadcast media by mid Nov.
February 20 Movement 11 Sept restarted weekly protests with thousands marching in pro-democracy demonstrations in major cities. Unified Socialist Party 18 Sept announced boycott of Nov legislative elections. 198 Amazigh organisations called for boycott of Islamist Justice and Development Parties in election. Trial began of 9 suspects in April Marrakesh bombing; main suspect recanted confession, claimed written under threat of torture.
Amid preparations for 23 Oct constituent assembly elections, Higher Body for Elections 7 Sept announced deposition of electoral lists completed on time. Political parties 14 Sept agreed roadmap for transition to democracy, parliamentary elections to be held in 1 year. Amid continued instability PM Caid Essebi 6 Sept announced ban on police union activities, strict state of emergency. Security forces 2 Sept opened fire in Sbeitla to break up street fighting involving hundreds, 5 Sept broke up tribal clashes in Metlaoui, 17-19 Sept clashed with youths in Kebili demanding resignation of transitional govt. Following several days of protests in Kasserine against high unemployment 5 unemployed teachers 16 Sept attempted to hang themselves outside education ministry building. Army 21 Sept clashed with unidentified heavily-armed group near Algerian border leaving 6 gunmen dead. Former justice minister Bechir Tekkeri arrested 8 Sept on suspicion of bribing witness in trial of Ben Ali family member. Authorities 21 Sept detained former Libya PM al-Mahmoudi for illegally entering Tunisia.
At least 7 killed, including 2 police officers, 25 Sept in clashes in Dakhla; authorities claim violence followed football riot.