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 Mali Islamist rebels in the north made further advances, seizing the strategic town of Douentza. Meanwhile, the murder of a group of unarmed Muslim preachers in southern town Diabaly mid-month risks sparking a sectarian backlash and raises fears that the army, already showing signs of deep divisions and instability, may be splintering. ECOWAS pledged to send a 3,300-strong force to reclaim the north and secure the transitional government. But without measures to reduce Mali's inter-communal tensions and address northern grievances a military approach could backfire. The upheaval in Mali threatens to escalate further and endangers regional stability.
In Syria the level of violence and the numbers killed and displaced continued to climb. The new UN/Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met with interlocutors on both sides and Egypt launched a regional initiative aimed at ending the crisis. But amid international deadlock, an end to the escalating civil war still looks remote. As the regime stepped up military and aerial bombing campaigns against major cities and areas controlled by the opposition Free Syrian Army, a UN Human Rights Council-mandated commission reported that "gross violations of human rights" by regime forces and militias had significantly increased. Opposition groups also stand accused of human rights abuses.
Azerbaijan's pardon and promotion of Ramil Safarov, a soldier convicted of murdering an Armenian soldier during a NATO training event in Hungary in 2004, dealt a further blow to the already faltering Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. The amnesty raised tensions and sparked another bout of harsh rhetoric between the two countries, with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan again declaring his country ready for war with Azerbaijan. The EU, U.S. and NATO all condemned the pardon and expressed concern about its implications for the region.
The Japanese government's purchase of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea caused a bilateral crisis between Japan and China, which also claims sovereignty over the islands. Beijing struck back by publishing territorial sea baselines encircling the islands, deploying patrol vessels and fishing boats, staging military exercises, threatening economic sanctions and cancelling a high-level event celebrating forty years of Japan-China diplomatic ties. Dozens of Chinese cities saw mass anti-Japan protests.
Tension is rising in Venezuela ahead of what could be a tight presidential election next week between incumbent Hugo Chávez and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. Two opposition activists were killed at a campaign rally at the end of the month, raising fears of further violence during the vote and its aftermath.
In neighbouring Colombia, the peace process launched last month seems to be gathering pace, despite persistent hostilities between FARC and the government. Both sides reiterated their commitment to talks, and are expected to meet for a first round of negotiations in October.
Govt 14 Sept met with EU ambassadors, disputed existence of extrajudicial killings. Former rebel National Liberation Forces (FNL) military chief Aloys Nzampema 3 Sept announced creation of new FNL-Ubugabo burihabwa rebel group citing govt “policy of extermination of FNL members”, claimed responsibility for 2 Sept attack on military base outside Bujumbura. VP Sinungu- ruza 7 Sept attended Great Lakes summit in Kampala on security in DRC. Rising tension between Barundi, Bafulero communities in DRC late month caused refugee influx in Cibitoke province.
Court 22 Sept sentenced former minister Marafa Hamidou Yaya, seen as potential successor to President Biya, to 25 years prison for embezzlement. Central African Republic rebels 23 Sept attacked border post in attempt to free comrades held in Cameroon; 3 killed including 1 rebel.
LRA rebels reportedly kidnapped 55 in 1 Sept raid on 2 villages in east; govt soldier killed 10 Sept in ambush in SE. Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) faction claimed responsibility for 15 Sept attacks on Damara, Sibut, Dekoa towns, said faction does not recognise peace accords signed by CPJP leader, threatened further attacks; army 19 Sept killed fac- tion leader Hassan al-Habib. Chadian Popular Front for Recovery (FPR) rebel chief Baba Laddé 2 Sept surrendered, extradited to Chad 5 Sept; govt 11 Sept established committee for repatriation of FPR rebels to Chad. Govt, opposition, civil society 13 Sept agreed to formation of National Elections Authority to replace much-criticised Independent Electoral Commission.
2 lead trade union members, journalist found guilty 18 Sept of “incitation of hatred”, defamation, sentenced to 18 months in prison. 2-month public sector workers’ strike in N’Djamena ended 17 Sept, reportedly to give mediation efforts initiated by religious leaders a chance at reaching a settlement.
Regional summit on DRC conflict early Sept agreed to deploy neutral force, excluding Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi troops, to combat M23 rebels. UN peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous 18 Sept told UNSC M23 rebels have established de facto administration in east. Govt 20 Sept began integration of 800 FRPI militias in Ituri into FARDC, 7 Sept initiated talks with Hutu self-defence groups in Masisi territory, N Kivu. Opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress 6 Sept accused govt of “treason” for crisis in east, presence of Rwandan troops. UNSG Ban 7 Sept expressed concern at continued reports of external support to M23; Human Rights Watch 11 Sept reported M23 rebels committing war crimes, said Rwandan officials possibly complicit. Govt continued to lobby international community to embargo minerals, impose sanctions on Rwanda. Roger Lumbala, Congolese MP and former rebel accused of supporting M23 rebellion in DRC, reportedly early month sought asylum at South African embassy in Burundi before fleeing to France; govt requested extradition.
Govt early Sept withdrew Special Forces supporting Congolese army against Hutu rebels, ending joint operations initiated in 2010; DRC govt said Rwanda smuggling troops supporting M23 out of eastern regions. EU 25 Sept froze further budgetary support over allegations Kigali supporting M23; President Kagame 27 Sept rejected claims, warned against external solutions to DRC crisis at UN high level summit.
Tens of thousands 2 Sept attended state funeral for PM Meles Zenawi. Acting PM Hailemariam Desalegn named successor 15 Sept, sworn in 21 Sept, vowed to maintain Meles’ legacy. Govt 10 Sept pardoned, freed 2 Swedish journalists arrested 2011 for “supporting terrorism” after visiting rebel Ogaden region. Govt delegates 6-7 Sept met with separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front, agreed to further talks.
Violence between Polomo, Oromo ethnic groups in Tana River area continued with over 100 killed since mid-Aug: police 17 Sept announced discovery of mass grave in Garsen area; 38 killed 10 Sept, including 9 police, govt official; 4 killed 11 Sept in clashes; 2 junior ministers charged with hate speech, inciting violence. At least 11 killed 27 Sept when residents clashed with suspected members of Mombassa Republican Council in Kilifi forest. Police 14 Sept announced arms, ammunitions, explosives cache seized in Nairobi raid, 2 suspects arrested; Abdimajid Yassin pleaded guilty to bomb possession, al-Shabaab membership, sentenced 20 Sept to 59 years in jail. 2 killed, several injured 30 Sept in grenade attack on Nairobi church; 2 police officers shot dead same day in Garissa. Preacher Abubakar Shariff Ahmed, accused by U.S. of supporting al-Shabaab militants, arrested 3 Sept, charged with inciting violence following Aug assassination of fellow preacher Aboud Rogo. Kenyan AMISOM soldier accused of deliberately killing 6 Somali civilians arrested 24 Sept. UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Bowden 19 Sept met with Defence Minister Yusuf Haji and other military officials to discuss civilian protection in Kismayo, Somalia.
New President Hassan Sheikh, chairman of the Peace and Development Party, elected 10 Sept. President Sheikh and Kenyan FM Sam Orgeri 12 Sept escaped al-Shabaab bomb attack on Mogadishu hotel, 8 others killed; MP Mistafa Maalim shot dead by gunmen 22 Sept in Mogadishu. UNSC 18 Sept welcomed end of transition, expressed concern over financial mismanagement. AU/Kenyan advance on al-Shabaab stronghold Kismayo continued throughout month; military spokesman 18 Sept said al-Shabaab leaving town, al-Shabaab denied; Kenyan forces 28 Sept claimed town captured. Some 200 al-Shabaab militants reportedly surrendered to AU forces 23 Sept. 4 journalists, at least 12 others killed 20-21 Sept in Mogadishu; 2 journalists killed 27-28 Sept.
President Kiir 23-25 Sept met with Sudanese President Bashir, 27 Sept signed deal on demilitarised zone, oil, no agreement reached on disputed Abyei region. Govt 14 Sept issued revision of oil-exploration rights, divided Total license area into 3 blocks citing Total’s failure to expedite exploration. UN peacekeepers 24 Sept reportedly witnessed Sudanese airdrop to rebel Yau Yau in Jonglei state.
Govt 27 Sept signed deal on oil, demilitarised zone with S Sudan (see S Sudan). UNSC President Peter Wittig 6 Sept expressed concern over humanitarian crisis in S Kordofan, Blue Nile; S Kordofan governor 11 Sept accused UN, AU, Arab League of obstructing implementation of 4 Aug tripartite agreement on humanitarian aid; U.S. Ambassador to UN Rice 7 Sept sharply criticised govt reaction to humanitarian crisis, rejection of AU High Implementation Panel Nov 2011 roadmap, threatened sanctions for non-compliance. U.S. mid-Sept evacuated non-essential staff following govt refusal to allow deployment of U.S. special forces to secure Khartoum embassy in face of violent protests over anti-Islam film; at least 2 killed when protesters clashed with police, attacked German, U.S. embassies. Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) continued to clash with SPLM-N rebels in S Kordofan, JEM rebels in Darfur, scores reported killed.
Govt mid-Sept deployed special forces in south following killing of at least 100 suspected Dahalo cattle-raiders in attacks by villagers 31 Aug-1 Sept, killing of 3 soldiers in Belo sur Tsiribihina 4-5 Sept by suspected Dahalos. Suspected Dahalos 14 Sept attacked Ihasy, Ibity villages in Antsirabe II District. Media 7 Sept reported 3 pro-opposition journalists sought refuge in S African embassy to escape security forces. Transitional President Rajoelina 26 Sept “allowed to travel” to NY to attend UNGA fol- lowing early Sept refusal of visa by U.S. consulate.
Police 3-5 Sept violently dispersed students demanding greater democratic freedoms, protesting increasing socio- economic hardship due to austerity reforms prescribed by IFIs.
Major parties 13 Sept agreed to take Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) draft constitution to Second All Stakeholders Conference as required by GPA; standoff provoked when ZANU- PF tabled draft with 220 amendments but MDC refused to return to negotiating table. Supreme Court Chief Justice approved one- month postponement of announcement of by-election dates to 31 Sept; Justice Minister Chinamasa sought further extension to late March 2013 citing lack of funding; President Mugabe submitted affidavit arguing by-elections not necessary as will coincide with general elections. Signs that repressive security architecture instrumental in 2008 electoral violence being reactivated: Electoral Support Network 12 Sept reported reactivation of 2008 torture bases in several rural areas amid increased reports of youth militia activities.
Gunmen 20 Sept attacked 2 police stations, 1 gendarmerie post in Port-Bouët, south of Abidjan, killing at least 3. At least 10 killed, including 5-7 assailants, in 21 Sept attack on border post in Noé; authorities said attackers came from Ghana, temporarily closed border. Ghanaian authorities 14 Sept arrested 3 men suspected of plotting coup in Côte d’Ivoire, 5 Sept said considering extradition of former Gbagbo spokesman Justin Koné Katinan, arrested in Aug. Military court 12 Sept launched investigation into Sept 2002 killing of ex-president/junta leader Gen Gueï, 13 Sept indicted ex-bodyguard of former first lady Simone Gbagbo, Anselme Séka, suspected of involvement in assassinations of Gen Gueï, Franco-Canadian reporter Guy-André Kieffer, and links to “death squads”. Young Patriots militia leader Charles Blé Goudé 20 Sept expressed desire to participate in Truth, Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission.
Following 27 Aug demonstration authorities arrested 120 opposition militants. Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) head Louceny Camara 5 Sept asked to be relieved from post. National Transition Council passed new CENI law proposed by executive, but controversy began over appointees. Opposition 20 Sept organised rally to demand inclusive negotiation on elections, 21 Sept clashed with govt supporters. Clashes erupted 23 Sept in Fria town 160km NW of Conakry after armed youths attacked suspected black market fuel salesmen, at least 20 injured.
Negotiations between transition authorities and ousted PM Carlos Gomes Júnior’s African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) continued; ousted interim president Raimundo Pereira 28 Sept prevented from speaking as G-B representative to UNGA following ECOWAS complaint. Several PAIGC members, including former Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) Executive Sec Domingos Simões Pereira, announced intention to run against Gomes Júnior in PAIGC leadership elections at Jan 2013 party congress. CPLP 18 Sept said may suspend G-B from org; Cape-Verdean PM Neves 18 Sept said country ready to facilitate negotiations on impasse. UNODC 28 Sept said drug trafficking increasing.
UN peacekeeping force (UNMIL) 21 Sept expressed serious concern over reported “mercenary” activities at Grand Gedeh County refugee camps, 20 Sept transferred 3 combat helicopters to Liberia-Côte d’Ivoire border. UNSC 17 Sept extended UNMIL mission to Sept 2013, authorised troop reduction, police increase. Cross-border illegal activities, insecurity continued along border with CDI: court 11 Sept charged 6 Ivorians with murder, mercenary activities, rape, arson, illegal possession of firearms, theft; Liberia/ CDI 14 Sept partially reopened border. UNSG Ban 11 Sept said govt “lacks resolve to stamp out blood-diamond trade”, USAID 13 Sept threatened to stop funding Kimberley Process.
Security situation continued to deteriorate, prompting fears of renewed conflict. President Traoré 4 Sept formally requested ECOWAS military intervention to secure transitional institutions, reclaim north; ECOWAS, transitional govt 23 Sept agreed to deploy 3,300-strong force. Demonstrators in Bamako 28-29 Sept protested against foreign intervention; international community remained divided on military intervention at UN special session on Mali 26 Sept. Security forces 8 Sept killed 16 unarmed Muslim preachers in Diabali; Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) swore to take revenge. MUJWA 1 Sept took Douentza town in central region Segou, sparking fears UNESCO-listed city Jenné could be next; 2 Sept executed Algerian diplomat Tahar Touati kidnapped in Gao (see Algeria). Human Rights Watch accused Islamists in north of becoming “increasingly repressive” in enforcement of Sharia. Islamists 15 Sept destroyed Cheikh el-Kébir mausoleum 330km north of Gao. AQIM leader Nabil Makloufi, in charge of north Mali/Sahara region, killed 8 Sept in car accident between Gao-Timbuktu. ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda early Sept said mission sent to investigates war crimes/crimes against humanity. Military coup leader Captain Sanogo 26 Sept promoted to Commander; same day shoot-out in Bamako police barracks between officers reportedly upset at colleagues perceived as too close to junta injured at least 2.
Hundreds of protesters 14 Sept demonstrated in Zinder against anti-Islam film, stormed largest Catholic church. AQIM 19 Sept threatened to kill 4 French hostages abducted in 2010 “if France intervenes in Mali”.
Boko Haram (BH) attacks continued: suicide bomb attack on church in Bauchi killed at least 3, injured 50 on 23 Sept; Borno state attorney general, former head of Bauchi prison service Ibrahim Jarmam killed 18 Sept; at least 8 killed 3 Sept in attacks on Divisional Police HQ, Cocin Church, house of army commander in New Marte, Maiduguri; 2 Maiduguri officials killed 2 Sept. Govt 24 Sept imposed curfew in Damaturu, Potiskum. Security forces 25 Sept said suspected BH leader killed, 156 suspected members of BH arrested in 3-day operation in Mubim near Maiduguri city. Security forces reportedly killed BH spokesman Abu Qaqa in Kano 17 Sept, 2 suspected senior BH militants in Maiduguri 20 Sept. Security forces 5 Sept retook hijacked oil tanker off coast of Lagos, freeing 23 Indian hostages.
PM Abdoul Mbaye 10 Sept confirmed ongoing negotiations with Casamance separatist MFDC movement; MFDC rival factions led by Ousmane Niantang Diatta and César Atoute Badiate mid-Sept reportedly reached agreement on reunification. President Sall 17 Sept visited Mauritania to discuss Mali crisis, warned against terrorism in north.
Tensions in East China Sea erupted into bilateral crisis between China and Japan over Diaoyu/Senkaku islands fol- lowing Japanese govt purchase of islands, which China also claims sovereignty over. Beijing retaliated by publishing territorial sea baselines encircling islands, deploying patrol vessels and fishing boats to disputed waters, staging large-scale military exercises, threatening economic punishment. Mass anti-Japan protests erupted in dozens of Chinese cities, some turning violent. Tourist agencies across China cancelled trips to Japan; high-level event celebrating 40 years of Japan-China diplomatic ties cancelled. Deputy FMs met in Beijing to discuss tensions, but no sign of end to problems. Dozens of fishing boats from Taiwan, which also claims islands, sailed into disputed waters under protection of Taiwanese patrol vessels; Japan Coast Guard vessels repelled them with water cannons.
Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) held rare second annual session 25 Sept but no announcement of anticipated reform measures. Govt 12 Sept rejected ROK offer of emergency food, medicines, despite predictions food insecurity to worsen following Aug floods which killed some 300. ROK patrol boats 21 Sept fired warning shots at N Korean fishing vessels in contested waters in Yellow Sea. Russia 18 Sept agreed to write off 90% of N Korea’s debt, invest in country. Iraq 21 Sept refused permission to N Korean plane bound for Syria to pass through its airspace on suspicion it could be carrying weapons.
Spate of insider “green-on-blue” attacks curtailed ISAF partnering operations with Afghan forces, increased distrust between Afghan, U.S. military leaders; U.S. Special Forces 2 Sept announced halt in recruitment, training for Afghan Local Police program. UNSG report 17 Sept expressed concern over cross- border violence, corruption, lack of respect for legislature, stressed importance of 2014 elections to political transition. Protests erupted mid-month over anti-Islam film, scores of police injured 17 Sept in protester attack on Kabul U.S. military base. 12 civilians killed, some 60 injured in 1 Sept twin suicide attack on ISAF base, Wardak province; Taliban fighters 14 Sept attacked Helmand NATO military base, destroyed 8 fighter jets; Hizb-e Islami Gul- buddin (HIG) militants 18 Sept killed at least 12 foreign aviation contractors, injured scores in suicide blast near Kabul airport. 2 Americans, 3 Afghan soldiers killed 29 Sept in shootout at check- point in Wardak province following “misunderstanding”. UN SRSG Kubiš 20 Sept warned of “even greater fragmentation of security environment”, noted Aug second deadliest month for civilians since 2007. President Karzai 2 Sept presented new security team including controversial former Kandahar and Ghazni governor Assadullah Khaled as Directorate of Security chief, former Interior Minister and Northern Alliance heavyweight Bismillah Khan Mohammadi as Defence Minister, and Maj. General Ghulama Mujtaba Patang, long-serving police official, as Interior Minister; all 3 approved 16 Sept at Wolesi Jirga. Second round of Trilateral Summit on Afghanistan held on sidelines of UNGA late month.
Thousands of demonstrators clashed with police over anti-Islam film in Dhaka 21-22 Sept, at least 50 civilians, 30 police injured; Islamic organisations 23 Sept enforced nationwide strike. Former Awami League MP shot dead 25 Sept. Muslim protesters 29-30 Sept attacked Buddhist homes, temples in Cox’s Bazar district after image of burnt Quran allegedly posted by local Buddhist on Facebook; authorities imposed curfew, deployed troops. Interior Minister described violence as “premeditated and deliberate acts of communal violence”.
Continued violence in Assam killed 2, injured 2. In Odisha, Maoist attacks killed 4. 2 police, several Maoists reportedly injured 29 Sept in Maoist attack on Chhattisgarh Armed Forces (CAF) camp. Alleged desecration of Quran 14 Sept triggered violent protests in Ghaziabad district; 6 dead, 12 injured, 80 vehicles torched.
Ruling coalition members – Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN(M)), United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) – and main opposition Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal UML 19 Sept agreed to hold elections for new body to draft constitution. For earlier spring 2013 election date, parties must agree by Nov on composition of govt that will hold elections, whether polls will be for new constituent assembly or parliament, and whether electoral system has to be amended. Some suggestions of “neutral” or “non-political” PM if parties unable to agree on leadership of new unity govt before election. Breakaway Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) threatened armed revolt if 70-point list of demands submitted to PM Bhattarai 10 Sept is ignored. PM Bhattarai 8 Sept warned of street protests against President Yadav if he does not endorse pending ordinances on education, health, civil service, truth and reconciliation commission. 13 opposition parties including NC, UML, CPN-M 24 Sept reiterated demand for PM Bhattarai’s resignation, threatened street protests. 1,388 former Maoist combatants qualified for integration into Nepal Army; further 75 undergoing tests for officer positions. Gen. Gaurav Rana appointed Nepal Army chief. U.S. State Dept removed Maoists from list of terrorist organizations.
Following several protests against anti-Islam film, govt- authorised 21 Sept “peaceful pro-Islam” demonstration turned violent: 21 killed, over 200 injured as protesters, spearheaded by activists from radical Islamist and banned jihadi parties, clashed with police. Railway Minister Ghulam Bilour 22 Sept offered bounty for death of filmmaker; govt and Bilour’s Awami National Party condemned offer. In govt reversal, PM Ashraf 18 Sept agreed to Supreme Court demands govt approach Swiss authorities to reopen graft case against President Zardari; Supreme Court rejected first two versions of letter drafted by Justice Minister, threatened to charge Ashraf with contempt if drafting requirements not met by 5 Oct. Parliamentary Committee on National Security 24 Sept decided to stop allowing UN groups to visit to discuss “sensitive issues” following controversial visit by UN working group on enforced disappearances. 14 killed 16 Sept by roadside bomb in Swat Valley; 2 killed, 19 wounded 3 Sept in bomb attack on U.S. govt vehicle in Peshawar; 8 civilians killed, 27 wounded in blast targeting Pakistani military vehicle, Peshawar. 12 Shiites killed, 45 injured 10 Sept in market bombing in Kurram region. U.S. announced addition of Haqqani Network to roster of designated global terrorist organisations.
Govt won nearly 60% of vote in 8 Sept provincial council elections in N Central, Sabaragamuwa provinces; opposition candidates won over two thirds of Eastern province vote, with Tamil National Alliance (TNA) doing well; but govt secured control of council after Muslim Congress agreed to rejoin UPFA coalition. Polls criticised by monitors for widespread abuse of state resources, violence by UPFA members. Supreme Court 17 Sept ruled govt’s bill to establish Department of Divineguma Development must be approved by all 9 provincial councils before being tabled in Parliament. Senior govt ministers joined 18 Sept public protests against judgment; govt media attacked chief justice; president attempted to summon Judicial Services Commission (JSC). JSC issued 18 Sept statement criticising intimidation of judiciary by govt media. University teachers completed 100 mile protest march to capital, as their strike entered 3rd month with no sign of resolution. Head of teachers union reported receiving death threats; leader of JVP- affiliated student union arrested, jailed 20 Sept after leading protest supporting strike. U.S. Asst Sec State Blake visited mid-month, called for “accelerated progress” on LLRC report implementation including demilitarisation of North, resumption of TNA-govt talks on devolution, prosecution of rights violations.
Authorities early Sept discovered new Islamist militant group in Jakarta, with mission to attack potential targets including police stations, govt officials and Buddhists, the latter over Myanmar’s treatment of Muslim Rohingya people: 8 Sept blast injured 6 including 1 militant in Depok near Jakarta; 1 accomplice surrendered 9 Sept, 2 suspects arrested. Police 22-23 Sept arrested 10 suspected terrorists in Solo for planning attack on parliament, 1 Sept arrested member of group behind Aug attacks on police. Following Aug attacks by Sunni mob on Shiites in Madura, E Java, Shiite organisations rejected govt’s plan to relocate Shiite community to avoid further sectarian violence; Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali 6 Sept proposed Sunni-Shiite dialogue. Demonstrations against anti-Islam film 17 Sept turned violent in front of U.S. embassy; protests in Medan led U.S. to temporarily shut down consulate. In Papua police 2-3 Sept arrested some 25 Free Papua Movement (OPM) members including leader Danny Kogoya for alleged involvement in Aug 2011, May 2012 shootings.
Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) 16 Sept visited U.S. for first time since her release; President Thein Sein 24 Sept made first U.S. visit. U.S. 19 Sept removed Thein Sein and lower house speaker Shwe Mann from sanctions list, 26 Sept announced easing of ban on imports from Myanmar; EU 17 Sept announced plans to lift trade barriers. Parliament 7 Sept approved 11 new ministers, auditor-general following early Sept cabinet reshuffle. Constitution Tribunal judges 6 Sept resigned after parliament voted to impeach them for incompetence. Govt 17 Sept announced release of 514 prisoners, including 88 political prisoners. Organisation of Islamic Cooperation delegation toured Rakhine State, 12 Sept signed agreement with govt to provide aid. In Kachin state clashes between govt troops, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) continued; Kachin National Organisation (KNO) 23 Sept urged UN “direct action” in open letter to UNSG Ban. 5,000 gathered 5-6 Sept at Monywa copper mine in NW to protest seizure of land by company; mine jointly owned by Myanmar military conglomerate and Chinese company.
Exploratory talks between govt and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 5-8 Sept made significant progress on draft “framework agreement” to set up new autonomous Muslim entity. Breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) 8 Sept pledged to MILF to stop attacks in central Mindanao; thousands remain displaced. In western Mindanao, security forces 20 Sept rescued Chinese hostage, killed 5 militants after raid on Abu Sayyaf camp. In Basilan province, suspected Abu Sayyaf militants continued attacks on rubber plantation at centre of land dispute; at least 3 killed in latest ambush 20 Sept. In Davao, grenade explosion 1 Sept intended to target army HQ injured 48 civilians; communist New People’s Army (NPA) claimed responsibility. President Aquino 5 Sept signed administrative order to name South China Sea “West Philippine Sea” in official maps.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Pillay urged govt to act on recommendations from 17 Sept Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand report on 2010 political violence; report called for restraint in application of lèse-majesté law, public discussions on constitutional reform. Govt 11 Sept extended emergency law in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat provinces until 19 Dec; PM Yingluck 18 Sept chaired meeting on southern insurgency. In Pattani 6 people killed, more than 40 injured in car bomb explosion 21 Sept. In Narathiwat, authorities 4 Sept seized land, Islamic school in Muang district over alleged use for insurgency; 93 separatist rebels agreed to surrender at 11 Sept meeting with 4th Army Region commander Lt Gen Udomchai Thammasarorat. In Yala 15 Sept ambush in Muang district killed 4, including 3 paramilitary rangers; 2 civilians killed 17 Sept in Raman district. Yellow-shirt and red-shirt supporters clashed in Bangkok 25 Sept after police summoned for questioning a teacher who publicly accused key red-shirt supporter Darunee Kritbunyalai of lèse-majesté.
EU 3 Sept expressed disappointment at Bosnia’s failure to meet 31 Aug deadline for addressing European Court of Human Rights Sejdić-Finci ruling, first deadline in June EU Road Map. Meeting in Sarajevo 12 Sept, PM Bevanda and Serbian PM Dačić pledged to build new relationship between countries. Husein ef. Kavazović elected Grand Mufti of Bosnia’s Islamic Community.
International Steering Group 10 Sept ended international supervision of Kosovo independence, ending mandate of International Civilian Representative (ICR) Peter Feith and closing his office; EU rule of law (EULEX) mission extended to June 2014. Some incidents in Serb enclaves; masked gunmen 7 Sept opened fire on EULEX-Kosovo police convoy in Zubin Potok municipality, injuring 1 police officer. Kosovo law enforcement and EULEX made several high profile arrests for extortion and corruption including Pristina Municipal Council chair 12 Sept. PM Thaci 24 Sept confirmed readiness to engage in high level dialogue with Serbia to EU foreign policy chief Ashton.
Greek, Macedonian FMs 27 Sept discussed name dispute on sidelines of UNGA. Tensions continued within ruling coalition between ethnic-Macedonian VMRO DPMNE and ethnic-Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) overdraft armed forces bill, with DUI blocking its passage through parliament. Visiting EU Enlargement Commissioner Füle 17 Sept said tensions negatively affecting EU accession reforms.
Ahead of European Commission progress report to be published 10 Oct, govt adopted reforms including pledging to implement agreements made earlier in technical talks with Kosovo. European Council president Van Rompuy 4 Sept and EU Enlargement Commissioner Füle 5 Sept urged PM Dačić to step up reform on path to EU membership, open up greater dialogue with Kosovo. Dačić said govt ready to return to talks with Kosovo on substantive political issues. President Nikolić 25 Sept told UNGA Serbia would never recognise independence of Kosovo but committed to “lasting peace between Serbs and Albanians”, called for direct negotiations with Pristina at highest level.
Continued anger over Azerbaijan’s pardon of Ramil Safarov, convicted of 2004 murder of Armenian soldier in Hungary (see Azerbaijan); President Sargsyan conveyed country’s readiness for war in event of military provocation, suspended ties with Hungary. Armenia mid-Sept hosted joint Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military exercises; coincided with significant Russian military exercises.
Fallout continued from President Aliyev’s 31 Aug pardon of Ramil Safarov, convicted of murdering Armenian soldier during NATO training in Budapest in 2004, following his extradition from Hungary. In addition to pardon, Safarov promoted from lieutenant to major, awarded back pay and free apartment. Pardon heightened tensions with Armenia (see Nagorno-Karabakh) and provoked strong international condemnation including EU, U.S., NATO, UNHCHR. Iran released 2 Azerbaijani poets arrested in May for alleged espionage.
Ahead of crucial 1 Oct parliamentary elections, Georgia and Russia exchanged accusations that other side is engaged in military build-up around breakaway region South Ossetia (SO). EU Monitoring Mission 21 Sept issued statement saying no evi- dence of Georgian build-up but expressed concern over increased concentration of Russian forces along administrative boundary line (ABL); urged both sides to refrain from destabilising activities. SO authorities reported attack on “border post” near ABL 29 Sept, responded by detaining Georgian Interior Ministry official. Pre-election atmosphere tense: OSCE election observation mission warned that tone of campaigns of ruling United National Movement (UNM) and main opposition coalition Georgian Dream (GD) “confrontational and rough”; EU foreign policy chief Ashton and Neighbourhood Commissioner Füle also expressed concerns over tensions. NATO Sec Gen Rasmussen described vote as “litmus test” for Georgian democracy. U.S. and EU FM delegations visited Georgia to assess election environment. Political tensions escalated as opposition-run TV channels 18 Sept showed footage of abuse of prisoners in Tbilisi jail, sparking several days of protests in capital and other cities, international condemnation. Prisons minister, interior minister both resigned; several lower level officials detained; President Saakashvili demanded overhaul of prison system. Series of compromising videos aired by opposition- and govt-supported channels in attempt to discredit other side. Tens of thousands attended opposition rally in Tbilisi 29 Sept.
Peace process damaged as Azerbaijan’s amnesty and promotion of Ramil Safarov (see Azerbaijan) dealt serious blow to confidence building with Armenia, heightening tensions and chances of escalation of conflict. Pardon sparked another bout of war rhetoric, Armenian President Sargsyan put army on high alert; observers fear freeze in contacts, risk of increased skirmishes. EU, U.S., NATO all expressed “deep concern” about security implications for region. Minsk Group co-chairs met with countries’ FMs to discuss situation. Azerbaijan Deputy FM 27 Sept said negotiations “suspended”. NATO Sec Gen Rasmussen, visiting region 7 Sept, warned against resumption of military hostilities. Countries continued to exchange accusations of ceasefire violations, with 1 casualty confirmed on Armenian side late month.
Tensions continued between Ingushetia leader Yevkurov and Chechen republican head Kadyrov. Yevkurov 4 Sept accused Kadyrov of “provocations” due to his Aug remarks about border between republics; President Putin’s envoy to North Caucasus Aleksandr Khloponin 7 Sept urged leaders to end public dispute. Heads of border commissions of Chechnya and Ingushetia met 18 Sept to reduce tensions. Violence in Ingushetia continued to worsen. In Sunzha district, at least 6 Russian interior ministry troops reported killed 5 Sept in attack on their convoy, and district police official killed in 7 Sept car bomb attack. 5 suspected militants reported killed 18 Sept in special operation by FSB and Chechen police on Ingush territory. In Dagestan, 3 militants killed in Kizlyarsky, Sergokalinsky districts and in Khasavyurt city 13, 18 and 28 Sept; 1 police killed, 2 wounded in Khasavyurt 13 Sept; serviceman killed in Buynaksk city 18 Sept; 4 servicemen died in helicopter crash near Chechen border 7 Sept; 4 businessmen killed in Izberbash, Gubden, Kumtorkalinsky and Khivsky districts during month. Dagestani wing of Riyadus Salakhiin suicide batallion claimed responsibility for 28 Aug killing of prominent cleric Sufi Sheikh Said Afandi Chirkeisky, which observers predict could seriously escalate sectarian conflict; in response to killing, Dagestan authorities ordered creation of self-defence groups to work with law enforcement agencies in combating terrorism. National Antiterrorist Committee 20 Sept reported 8 suspected militants including 4 insurgency leaders and 2 women killed by security forces in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria. 4 police killed, 11 wounded, 4 militants killed during clashes in Chechnya’s southern Vedeno district 23 Sept.
23 Sept parliamentary elections condemned by international observers including OCSE as “not free or fair”; opposition parties boycotted vote in protest at detention of political prisoners, election fraud. Election commission reported voter turnout of 74%. All victors members of parties loyal to President Lukashenka.
EU 27 Sept lifted travel ban on former political leadership of Transnistrian region in recognition of progress in negotiations to settle Transnistrian conflict.
Ahead of 28 Oct parliamentary elections, parliament passed law limiting political rallies, put on hold law criminalising libel following criticism by opposition, OSCE, media watchdogs.
With peace talks between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots on hold ahead of Feb 2013 Greek Cypriot elections, UN envoy Downer 23 Sept said efforts currently focused on talks with two sides’ technocrats. Commenting on UN initiative to codify positions of both sides, Greek Cypriot president Christofias said next president not committed to convergences already reached in talks.
Security situation further deteriorated in southeast as PKK attacks continued to escalate, causing heavy military casualties. Major death tolls from clashes on 2 Sept in Şirnak, with 10 soldiers and 20 PKK dead; 9 Sept in Şemdinli, with at least 2 soldiers, 7 PKK dead; 11 Sept in Şemdinli, 8-10 PKK dead; 4 soldiers killed in Hakkari by roadside bomb 15 Sept; 8 police killed by mine in Bingöl 16 Sept; 2 PKK rockets fired at buses carrying off-duty soldiers near Bingöl 18 Sept killed 10; 26 Sept military operation in Çukurca left 2 soldiers, 13 PKK dead. Total death toll informally counted by Crisis Group in Turkey’s PKK conflict in Sept was 96, including 53 from security forces, 39 from PKK, 4 civilians; sharp increase from Aug total of 74. 771 people have died in conflict since June 2011. PM Erdoğan 26 Sept signalled restarting talks with PKK possible. Turkey joined Egypt-Iran-Saudi-Turkey contact group in Cairo 17 Sept to discuss regionally coordinated approach to Syrian crisis (see Syria). As number of Syrian refugees in Turkey reached over 80,000, Turkey’s call for buffer zone did not get response from UN, U.S. EU. U.S. increasingly critical of Turkey’s refusal to allow multilateral agencies greater role in refugee camps. Schools in border areas closed late month due to shelling on Syrian side of border. Drafts of EU’s Oct annual progress report critical of lack of progress on political criteria, respect for fundamental rights.
Series of violent attacks in western region Atyrau: 1 killed in 5 Sept explosion near mosque; 5 alleged terrorists suspected of involvement killed during anti-terror operation 12 Sept; at least 2 police injured 15 Sept following bomb blast in interior ministry offices in regional capital; 4 suspected terrorists killed by security forces 20 Sept. Orak Sarbopeev, major of Janaozen at time of Dec 2011 clashes, found guilty 25 Sept of abuse of office and corruption, sentenced to 10 years jail; Zhalghas Babakhanov, Janaozen mayor from 1999-2009, jailed for 2 years for abuse of office. Human Rights Watch released report accusing govt and oil firms of systematic violations of rights of oil workers. Court in western city Oral sentenced man to 5 years jail for propagating religious extremism. Ministry of culture and information 11 Sept proposed to limit media reporting based on unofficial sources. PM Masimov and his govt resigned 24 Sept; Masimov appointed as head of presidential administration, widely seen as a step up. Parliament unanimously approved new PM Serik Akhmetov.
Following Aug collapse of coalition govt, Social Democratic, Ar-Namys and Ata-Meken parties established new ruling coalition 3 Sept, approved chief of presidential office Jantoro Satybaldiev as new PM. Satybaldiev said getting country through winter in face of severe power shortages his first priority. Former PM Babanov’s Respublika party and Ata Jurt founded opposition alliance 5 Sept. In South, at least 100 villagers in Ala-Buka district reportedly beat up district judge and prosecutor who exonerated local Uzbeks accused of beating fellow villager, held several protests late month. Demonstrations at Belarusian embassy 10 Sept demanding Minsk extradite former president Bakiev and his brother, on charges connected with deaths of nearly 100 people during April 2010 unrest. Visiting Russian president Putin met with President Atambayev 20 Sept, agreed on extension of lease on Russian military base, write-off of Kyrgyz debt, investments in hydropower projects.
President Rakhmon 19 Sept visited restive eastern region Gorno-Badakhshan, site of July-Aug special security operation that left 70 dead; his meeting with residents, during which he defended deployment of military, criticised local law-enforcement officials, broadcast on national TV. EU 7 Sept expressed concern over east, demanded govt allow access to international organizations, diplomatic missions; also called for “transparent investigation” into murders of Islamic Renaissance Party member Sabzali Mamadrizoev in July, former rebel commander Imomnazar Imomnazarov in Aug. Supreme Court 11 Sept jailed 15 alleged members of banned Islamist group Jamaat Ansarullah; defendants arrested in eastern Rasht area and Pakistan. Dushanbe and Moscow 17 Sept discussed extension of Russian lease on military base. Russian troops 19 Sept started military exercises near Dushanbe.
Country held its first ever naval drills in Caspian Sea early month, amid ongoing tensions over ownership of sea and Azerbaijan military build-up. U.S. Peace Corps announced stopping all activities in country by Dec 2012.
Uzbek border guard injured by Tajik border guards 11 Sept after he allegedly entered Tajik territory; two countries swapped recriminations. President Karimov visited Kazakhstan 7 Sept to discuss cooperation, security issues, potential regional conflict over water resources. Visiting Chinese VP Hui met with Karimov, signed agreements on cooperation, investments, Uzbek gas exports. Switzerland blocked bank accounts of 4 Uzbek nationals close to President, due to investigations into money laundering. Uzbek court authorized seizure of all assets of subsidiary of Russian mobile company MTS.
Rival groups of miners clashed in La Paz 19 Sept over right to control part of nationalised mine in Colquiri, leaving 1 killed, 9 wounded.
President Santos 4 Sept announced pre-accord to reach political deal with FARC; both sides pledged to begin negotiations in Oslo early Oct while military operations still ongoing, continue talks in Cuba until final agreement reached; possibility second largest guerrilla group National Liberation Army (ELN) could participate. Agenda presented 6 objectives: integrated agrarian development, political participation, termination of conflict, solution to illicit drugs problem, victims, implementation and monitoring. El Espectador 29 Sept reported talks may not begin 8 Oct as initially planned due to delays in suspending arrest warrants of rebel negotiators. Operations against FARC continued with killings of 33rd front leader in Norte de Santander 5 Sept, 10th front commander in Arauca 23 Sept, 37th front commander in Antioquia 27 Sept. Security forces 18 Sept captured major drug kingpin Daniel “El Loco” Barrera in joint operation in Venezuela. Blows to New Illegal Armed Groups (NIAGs) with detentions of ERPAC group leader “El Flaco Fredy” in Meta 16 Sept, 18 Urabeños members in Magdalena 22 Sept, and Paisas leader “El Puma” in Antioquia 24 Sept. Attorney General 21 Sept said will increase number of prosecutors investigating murders of some 3,000 “false positives”, warned “poor results” could lead to ICC intervention. Drug trafficker Griselda Blanco, “Godmother of Cocaine”, killed by unknown gunmen in Medellín 3 Sept.
Govt requested UK to authorise transfer of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Ecuadorean embassy in Sweden so he can respond to sex crimes allegations, in move to end diplomatic standoff with U.S..
Fears of renewed violence as tensions increased ahead of 7 Oct presidential elections. 2 local opposition leaders shot dead at campaign rally in Barinas state 29 Sept, allegedly by members of ruling PSUV party; 6 PSUV militants arrested. Govt denied accusations by opposition Primero Justicia. Unconfirmed reports President Chávez training cells of “militant revolutionaries” from grassroots social and vigilante groups “colectivos” to avert possible electoral defeat. Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) 12 Sept designated commission to “accompany” 7 Oct presidential elections. Latest opinion polling varies between groups, but most indicate Chávez with double-digit lead, though opposition candidate Capriles gaining ground, many undecided or non-respondents. Capriles sacked top aide after being filmed receiving cash payment from unidentified person.
President Pérez Molina 3 Sept announced plans to open 3 more military bases along borders to stop flow of illegal drugs to Mexico, U.S.. Authorities 5 Sept dismantled “mega” synthetic drug lab in Huehuetenango dept. Speaking at UNGA 27 Sept Pérez acknowledged “serious shortcomings” in basic premise of country’s war against drugs.
Thousands demonstrated in Cap-Haïtien 20-21 Sept, 30 Sept to protest price increases, govt’s unfulfilled campaign promises. Superior Judiciary Council 25 Sept announced plan to repeat vote for electoral council representatives following controversy over initial nominations. President Martelly 27 Sept asked UNSG Ban for MINUSTAH troop reduction, redefinition of mandate with focus on development.
Security forces 27 Sept arrested Zetas cartel commander Ivan Velazquez Caballero “El Taliban”; 26 Sept killed 10 in “gang shoot-out” in Guerrero State; 12 Sept captured Gulf cartel leader Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez “El Coss”; 3 Sept captured Gulf cartel leader Mario Cárdenas Guillén. Authorities 22 Sept found 7 burned/dismembered bodies along highway in Michoacán State; 16 Sept discovered dismembered bodies of 17 men in Jalisco State; 10 Sept found 16 bodies in vehicle in Guerrero State; 14 Sept found 16 bodies dumped in Tamaulipas; 6 Sept found 4 bodies hanging from bridge in San Luis Potosí. 2 Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) officials killed mid-Sept near Mexico City, Ciudad Obregón. Presidential runner-up Andrés Manuel López Obrador 9 Sept said leaving Democratic Revolution Party to set up new party. 131 inmates escaped from prison in Coahuila state 17 Sept.
First half of Sept saw widespread demonstrations, strikes, rioting in West Bank triggered by rising prices; protesters called for resignation of PM Fayyad, PA President Abbas, end to Oslo Accords. PA 11 Sept revoked recent tax increases. Thousands 14 Sept protested in Palestinian territories against anti-Islam film; hundreds protested, clashed with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem. Abbas 27 Sept announced he will seek UNGA vote on Palestine non-state membership. Jihadi group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for 21 Sept attack at Har Harif on Egyptian border that killed 3 militants and 1 Israeli soldier, said attack reaction to anti-Islam film, revenge for 26 Aug assassination of senior leader Ibrahim Aweida. Israeli PM Netanyahu 3 Sept asked U.S. President Obama to set “clear red line” for Tehran, 16 Sept claimed Iran only months away from nuclear bomb.
About 200 protesters gathered mid-Sept in Amman demanding release of over a dozen opposition activists arrested during month; anti-govt protester Basil Bashabsheh released 19 Sept, 17 protesters remain in prison; officials denied ill treatment. King Abdullah 18 Sept endorsed new media law requiring govt licence for online publications.
Pope Benedict XVI mid-month visit coincided with countrywide protests against controversial anti-Islam film; Hizbollah leader Nasrallah 16 Sept called for demonstrations, denounced film; during protests in Tripoli 14 Sept American fast- food restaurant burnt down, 1 killed in clashes with security forces. Hostages taken by al-Meqdad clan in Aug freed by army mid-Sept; 6 al-Meqdad clan members charged 18 Sept with forming armed group for terrorist purposes, kidnappings. Month saw continued, frequent cross-border incursions, kidnappings, shootings, shelling from Syria; opposition March 14 coalition 4 Sept called for expulsion of Syria’s ambassador.
Casualties and displacement continued to rise as fighting between rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Syrian military continued, with regime forces conducting large-scale military operations, bombing raids on opposition-controlled areas. UNHRC-mandated Commission of Inquiry 17 Sept reported regime’s “gross violations of human rights”, said violations significantly increased throughout late Aug, early Sept with indiscriminate attacks against civilians occurring daily; Human Rights Watch 17 Sept accused Syrian opposition groups of committing war crimes including torture and summary execution of prisoners. New UN/Arab League envoy Brahimi met with interlocutors including President Assad throughout month. Egyptian initiative comprising Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey met 17, 27 Sept, cautioned against expectations of quick solution to crisis; Saudi Arabia absent both occasions. Opposition National Coordination Body for Democratic Change (NCB) 23 Sept called for regime overthrow at meeting in Damascus attended by Iranian, Russian, Chinese diplomats; stated opposition to violent uprising, foreign military intervention.
Court 4 Sept upheld 5-25 year jail sentences of 2011 uprising leaders; opposition al-Wefaq condemned ruling. 7 police charged 18 Sept over 2011 torture of Shia medics. Police 7 Sept violently dispersed anti-govt protestors defying demonstration ban in Manama; govt said would take legal action against al-Wefaq organisers. 29 anti-govt protesters arrested 21 Sept in Manama following demonstration organised by Feb 14 opposition group. Thousands of anti-govt protesters rallied 28 Sept in authorised al-Wefaq-organised march in Manama; 17-year-old killed as around 100 protesters clashed with police. Leading activist Zainab al-Khawaja jailed for 2 months for tearing picture of King Hamad.
P5+1 FMs met at sidelines of 27 Sept UNGA meeting to discuss nuclear program. IAEA resolution 13 Sept expressed “serious concern” about Iranian uranium enrichment. UN 19 Sept reported potential sanctions violations; Iranian nuclear chief Abbasi 20 Sept admitted govt submitted false data, reportedly to mislead foreign intelligence. Iran, DPRK 1 Sept signed cooperation deal; deputy nuclear chief Mohammad Ahmadian same day reported Bushehr nuclear power plant at full capacity. UK, France, Germany 7 Sept called for further strengthening of EU sanctions; Canadian govt same day announced closure of embassy in Iran, expulsion of Iranian diplomats citing Iran’s support for Syrian regime, failure to comply on nuclear issue, embassy staff safety. Authorities 29 Sept condemned removal of Mahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) militant group from U.S. terrorism list, accused Washington of “double standards”. Head of Revolutionary Guards Gen Jafari 17 Sept said elite Quds Force members providing non-military assistance in Syria. Govt 17 Sept called for halt to violence in Syria, no foreign intervention. Faezeh Hashemi, political activist and daughter of former President Rafsanjani, arrested 23 Sept, serving 6 month sentence for “spreading propaganda against regime”; brother Mehdi Hashemi arrested 24 Sept for anti-state activity following return from self-imposed exile since 2009 elections.
Court 9 Sept sentenced in absentia VP al-Hashemi to death for masterminding 2 murders; Trade Ministry stopped registering Turkish companies over Turkey’s refusal to extradite al-Hashemi. Govt oil payment dispute with Kurdistan Regional Govt (KRG) ended 13 Sept following KRG pledge to continue exports, Baghdad agreement to pay producing companies working in Kurdistan region; oil payments transferred 30 Sept from Baghdad to KRG. Govt 8 Sept closed border at al-Qaim town after rockets fired from Syria 8 Sept killed 1,18 Sept re-opened border to Syrian refugees, refused entry to young men citing security. FM Hoshiyar Zebari 30 Sept announced plans to conduct random inspections of Iranian planes following allegations planes carrying military supplies to Syrian govt. Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia 13 Sept threatened U.S. interests over controversial anti-Islam film; PM al-Maliki called for non-violent reaction; hundreds protested in Baghdad. 7 Sept blasts in Kirkuk, including at 2 Shiite mosques, killed at least 8, wounded 70. Attacks 9 Sept throughout country killed over 70, wounded over 200. Suicide car bomber 17 Sept killed 7, including MP, in Baghdad; Car bomb attacks throughout country 30 Sept targeting security forces, Shia pilgrims, killed at least 32. Militants 27 Sept attacked Tasfirat prison in Tikrit, 12 guards killed, 90 inmates freed.
Several protests held late Sept demanding release of political prisoners; police violently dispersed protesters, reportedly killing 3, around 60 arrested.
U.S. mid-Sept sent platoon of marines to Yemen following 13 Sept attack on U.S. embassy compound in protest over anti-Islam film; Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) 16 Sept urged Muslims to protest, kill U.S. diplomats. Several assassination attempts including 22 Sept suicide bomb attack in Aden targeting former Islamist Abdul-Latif al-Sayed; Defense Minister Major General Muhammad Nasir Ahmad 11 Sept survived car bomb, 12 others killed; bomb targeting senior official 16 Sept killed 3 in al-Mukalla; suicide bomber 29 Sept killed himself, 1 other in attack targeting Mohammed Aidarous, head of popular committee of tribal volunteers. U.S. drone 5 Sept killed 6 suspected Islamist militants in Hadramut province. Reported govt air strike 2 Sept killed 10 civilians in central Yemen. 4 suspected Islamist militants killed in 8 Sept gunfight with army, allied tribal fighters near Jaar. 2 al-Qaeda-linked militants killed in 2 Sept clashes with pro-govt tribesmen in South. Maarib oil pipeline explosions 4, 9 Sept blamed on Islamist militants, tribesmen; gas pipeline feeding country’s only gas export terminal sabotaged 25 Sept. President Hadi 25 Sept said govt ready for dialogue with al-Qaeda militants. Hadi 11 Sept replaced security officials, civil servants, governors; appointees include supporters of ousted President Saleh’s rival, Ali Muhsin. Clashes 21 Sept between Sunni, Shiite Islamist groups in Amran province, 1 killed. Govt 19 Sept announced investigation into alleged rights violations during 2011 uprising. Islamist militant group Al Nusra Front 30 Sept released video alleging 5 Yemeni army officers captured in Syria, claimed officers sent by Yemen govt to help Syrian regime.
Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) 1 Sept executed Algerian consul kidnapped in April in Mali, said 3 remaining hostages will be killed unless Algerian govt releases 3 jihadi fighters arrested 15 Aug. Govt 12-13 Sept held regional conference to discuss Sahel crisis.
Some 3,000 protesters demonstrated outside U.S. embassy in Cairo 11 Sept over anti-Islam film; some 200 injured, 1 killed in following days as protesters clashed with security forces. Prosecutor’s office 18 Sept issued arrest warrant for 7 Egyptian Coptic Christians, 1 U.S. pastor for alleged role in film’s production on charges of harming national unity, insulting Islam, spreading false information. Mubarak-era PM and presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq and 10 aviation officials referred to trial on corruption charges; TV presenter Tawfiq Okasha, on trial for incitement to murder President Morsi, arrested 30 Sept for embezzlement. At 5 Sept Arab League summit, President Morsi endorsed change of govt in Syria; 17 Sept held contact group meeting with Iran, Turkey govts to address crisis; further talks held 27 Sept at UNGA meeting in New York. Govt 8 Sept revealed Egypt-Israel cooperation in Sinai security operation, said 32 “criminal elements” killed, 38 suspects arrested. Unidentified gunmen 14 Sept attacked international peacekeeping base in Gora; 1 soldier killed 16 Sept in armed attack on N Sinai security HQ in el-Arish. Court 8 Sept postponed hearing to 2 Oct of lawsuits challenging legality of Constitutional Assembly’s composition; Administrative Court 22 Sept affirmed Supreme Constitutional Court June ruling that caused dissolution of Parliament.
U.S. ambassador Stevens, 3 others killed in 11 Sept attack on U.S. consulate in Benghazi; some 50 subsequently arrested over attacks; govt 17 Sept fired Benghazi security chiefs, Benghazi police mutinied in protest. Ansar al-Sharia 18 Sept denied responsibility, warned Libya would become “inferno for U.S. troops” if U.S. military retaliated. U.S. 20 Sept said “self-evident” that attack was “terrorist attack” with possibility of al-Qaeda involvement, announced investigation into possible collusion between militants, Libyan personnel guarding facility. Thousands marched in Benghazi 21 Sept in support of democracy, called on govt to disband militias, stormed HQs of Ansar al-Sharia, Rafallah Sehati brigades in Benghazi, resulting in 11 deaths, dozens injured; next day Abu Slim and Ansar al-Sharia of Derna militias withdrew from Derna. Army 23 Sept ordered unauthorised armed groups in and around Tripoli to leave state, vacate seized military premises or be forcefully ejected. Govt 24 Sept placed February 17 brigade and Rafallah al-Sahati militias under army command. Hundreds relinquished weapons in Tripoli, Benghazi 29 Sept following rallies calling for disarmament, disbanding of militias. Heavy anti-aircraft fire by Islamists 14 Sept targeting drones forced govt to temporarily close airspace over Benghazi airport. General National Congress 12 Sept selected Mustafa Abu Shagour as PM; issued 26 Sept ultimatum to Shagour to name new cabinet by 8 Oct. Mauritania extradited to Libya former Qadhafi govt spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi to face charges of crimes against humanity; Niger denied reports it agreed to allow Saadi Qadhafi to leave country; South Africa rejected reports it offered him safe haven. Omran Shaban, rebel who helped in former dictator Qadhafi’s capture and abducted in July, died 24 Sept after alleged torture. Former rebels demanding more recognition from Libya’s new rulers exchanged fire 25 Sept outside General National Congress.
Hundreds rallied 14 Sept in Nouakchott to protest anti-Islam film, demanded departure of U.S. ambassador. Govt 5 Sept extradited to Libya former Qadhafi spy chief Abdallah al-Senoussi, wanted by Libya and ICC for crimes against humanity. Govt 10 Sept denounced “barbaric massacre” of 16 Muslim preachers in Mali (see Mali).
5 activists from 20 Feb movement sentenced 12 Sept to 8-20 months in prison for “participation in unauthorised demonstration”; Human Rights Watch 17 Sept called on govt to investigate accusations that activists tortured by police. Thousands protested mid-month in Casablanca, Tangiers, Salé against anti-Islam film. Around a thousand jobless graduates 3 Sept protested in Rabat, hundreds briefly invaded Justice and Development (PJD) party HQ. PJD held youth rally 1 Sept despite govt ban for “security reasons”.
4 killed, 46 injured 14 Sept in attack on U.S. embassy and American school in Tunis over controversial anti-Islam film. Hundreds demonstrated 20 Sept against protestor violence; govt 21 Sept banned all demonstrations. Salafist leader Saif-Allah Benahssine 17 Sept escaped attempted arrest over attacks. 4 police officers arrested 10 Sept for death of prisoner. President Marzouki’s former aide Ayoub Massoudi received suspended prison sentence 22 Sept for insulting army. Protests planned after couple who made rape allegation against 2 police officers charged 26 Sept with public indecency.
11 Sahrawi detainees in Laayoune’s “black jail” 1 Sept initiated hunger strike in solidarity with detainee held in solitary confinement. Polisario Front, Moroccan govt, MINURSO 16 Sept held 3rd meeting in Geneva to evaluate progress on implementation of confidence-building measures; U.S. Sec State Clinton 14 Sept restated U.S. support for Moroccan “Autonomy Plan for Sahara.”