CrisisWatch is a monthly early warning bulletin designed to provide a regular update on the state of the most significant situations of conflict around the world.
September saw conflicts worsen in Syria, Mali, Libya and the Central African Republic (CAR), with civilians often bearing the brunt of the violence. Governments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe cracked down on protests against the ruling regimes and in Azerbaijan a referendum on constitutional amendments was widely seen as a step to consolidate the president’s rule and stifle dissent. A controversial referendum in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska went ahead in defiance of state institutions. In Asia, tensions spiked between nuclear powers Pakistan and India following clashes in Kashmir, and on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test, its biggest yet. Both Yemen and CAR could see a significant escalation in violence in the coming weeks, whereas Colombians are getting ready to vote in a plebiscite on 2 October which could herald the end of 52 years of conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Central African RepublicDemocratic Republic of CongoZimbabweMaliKorean PeninsulaKashmirBosnia And HerzegovinaAzerbaijanSyriaLibya
Central African RepublicKashmirSyriaYemen
In DRC, the battle for the country’s political leadership turned violent on 19-20 September when security forces used live rounds to disperse crowds protesting against the regime’s attempts to stay in power beyond its constitutional time limit. At least 49 civilians were killed in the clashes. Meanwhile, the dialogue, intended to track a course out of the crisis – already boycotted by influential opposition leaders – was temporarily suspended. Crisis Group has warned that postponing the planned election risks undoing the gains of over ten years of relative peace, and has called on the international community to use all its diplomatic and financial tools to help the Congolese find a solution before President Kabila’s second term expires on 19 December. In Zimbabwe, the confrontation between the regime and opposition, fuelled by an economic dive, also slipped further toward violence as police continued to repress protests and regime supporters assaulted four opposition politicians.
In CAR, former Séléka rebels upped attacks on civilians in the central and northern hinterlands and clashed with local anti-balaka militias. After more than three years of religious and ethnic strife, the renewed fighting will likely open fresh wounds and could trigger a burst of retaliatory violence in the coming weeks. In Mali, prospects for peace in the north dimmed as armed groups that signed the June 2015 agreement continued to clash sporadically in Kidal region and a coalition splintered along communal lines. In Libya, General Haftar’s lightning takeover of the country’s main oil terminals along the Mediterranean shore consolidated his control in the east and dealt a serious blow to the internationally recognised Presidency Council in Tripoli, whose authority he denies.
In Syria, months of negotiations between the U.S. and Russia on a deal unravelled just days after the Cessation of Hostilities was partially reinstated. On 17 September, the U.S. mistakenly bombed a Syrian army outpost reportedly killing 62 soldiers, and two days later the regime and Russian air force reportedly attacked a UN aid convoy. The collapse of the truce was followed by the worst bombardments for months in Aleppo city, inflicting unprecedented destruction.
Meanwhile, a new, potentially more harrowing act is starting in Yemen’s tragedy, already eighteen months long. After UN-brokered talks collapsed in August, the government of President Hadi on 19 September fired the governor of the largely impartial Central Bank and decided to move it from Sanaa, the rebel-held capital, to government-controlled Aden. The move vastly complicates prospects for a negotiated settlement and, by accelerating economic collapse, could tip large parts of the country into famine. To avoid an even more devastating phase in this war of attrition, Crisis Group has urged conflict parties, regional and international actors to work toward an immediate ceasefire, resumption of UN-mediated talks and effective Central Bank functioning.
In Asia, North Korea conducted its fifth and largest nuclear test yet on 9 September, drawing condemnation from its neighbours and the U.S. The nuclear test came just days after three more ballistic missile launches, described by the UN Security Council as a “grave violation” of North Korea’s international obligations. Meanwhile, in Kashmir, relations between India and Pakistan reached their lowest point since 2011 following the attack by four armed militants on 18 September on an army base in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Uri region, which killed eighteen and injured some 30 Indian soldiers. Tensions mounted at the end of the month as India claimed to have conducted surgical strikes targeting militants in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
In Europe, Bosnia’s Serb-controlled entity Republika Srpska held a controversial referendum on 26 September in defiance of a ruling by the state Constitutional Court, approving the continued celebration of the annual “Republika Srpska” public holiday in the entity. Bosniaks and the country’s western partners expressed deep concern about the Serb entity’s challenge to the constitutional order created under the country’s 1995 Dayton Peace Accords. In Azerbaijan, voters overwhelmingly approved a series of constitutional amendments that have been widely criticised as a means to strengthen the rule of President Aliyev and supress dissent.
In a major step forward, Colombia’s government and FARC signed a final peace agreement on 26 September, officially ending 52 years of civil war. On 2 October, Colombians will vote on whether to approve the final agreement, which provides for an ambitious scheme of transitional justice and changes to rescue rural Colombia from stark inequalities, further open up democracy, and replace illicit coca production with licit crops and other economic opportunities. If the deal is approved, FARC must lay down its weapons and initiate a new unarmed political existence. If the deal is rejected, Colombia will most likely suffer political convulsions and a return to war.
Low intensity conflict between regime and opposition continued, pushing number of Burundian refugees in neighbouring countries over 300,000 as political dialogue remained stalled. Opposition party National Forces of Liberation (FNL) 3 Sept denounced persecution of its supporters by Imbonerakure ruling party youth wing. Two corpses found in Ruzizi River, Cibitoke province 6 Sept which authorities immediately buried. In Bujumbura, grenade attack 13 Sept targeting army colonel injured his wife, another on police vehicle 19 Sept caused no casualties; another 14 Sept in Bururi province killed pro-govt former army officer and his family. In 20 Sept report, UN Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) accused govt of “widespread and systemic” human rights violations, confirmed existence of govt hit list and named suspected perpetrators of crimes against humanity. Govt 22 Sept called report “biased”, about 1,000 people 24 Sept protested against report in Bujumbura. Police 28 Sept arrested leader of Fedes-Sangira opposition party, member of main CNARED coalition, in Makamba for “endangering state security”; police chief 29 Sept said police had arrested eight officers and fifteen soldiers on same grounds in past two weeks. At East African Community (EAC) summit in Tanzania 8 Sept inter-Burundian dialogue mediator former Tanzanian President Mkapa presented roadmap for peace and called on EAC leaders to use leverage to revive mediation; leaders renewed support but did not agree on measures to break impasse.
Boko Haram (BH) insurgents continued to attack civilians and military in Far North. About 30 BH fighters 2 Sept attacked army position at Kerawa, near Kolofata; security forces reported ten BH killed and one soldier injured. BH 5 Sept killed two civilians in Guidiguidi and Wamba, near Mora. Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) elite forces 9 Sept killed six presumed BH in Aladji Fouwa near Mora. Land mine killed soldier and injured six others 11 Sept at Djibrili. BH 15 Sept killed two civilians in Sandawadjiri, Mayo-Tsanaga department. Next day, about 30 BH coming from Kalabalgué in Nigeria attacked civilian convoy between Gouma and Kabo, Dabanga area, killing four civilians and looting trucks. Suicide bombing 21 Sept killed three people and injured two in Djakana, Mora district.
Former rebels intensified attacks on civilians and clashed with local militias in north and centre risking greater violence in coming weeks. Ex-Seleka fighters 3 Sept attacked villagers in Nangayan near Dekoa in centre, killing three; clashed with MINUSCA peacekeepers in Dekoa night of 3-4 Sept, one fighter killed; raided Ndomete village near Kaga Bandoro in north 16 Sept, killing 26 villagers; clashed with anti-balaka militia later same day in Kaga Bandoro, at least four ex-Seleka fighters killed. Ex-Seleka 27 Sept reportedly attacked Koui, Ouham-Pende prefecture in NW. Ahead of withdrawal of French Sangaris mission end Oct, France 8 Sept said it would provide MINUSCA with several surveillance drones and about 100 operators. Presidents of Chad, Sudan and CAR 9 Sept agreed to deploy security forces along shared borders to restrict rebel movements and crime. To promote reconciliation between Christians and Muslims, President Touadéra 12 Sept made Eid Muslim festival national holiday.
Boko Haram (BH) fighters intensified attacks on Lake Chad islets near border with Niger, killing several soldiers. Alleged BH attacked army position near Kaiga Kindjiria in Lake region at Niger border night of 24-25 Sept killing four soldiers and wounding six, military said seven BH killed. Dozens of BH combatants surrendered on Lake Chad’s shore during month. Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, commander of Libyan National Army opposed to Presidency Council, 14 Sept visited President Déby in N’Djamena and discussed security in Libya.
Police and military violently repressed protests against President Kabila and political dialogue faltered. Dialogue began 1 Sept, participants included ruling majority, moderate opposition parties including Vital Kamerhe’s Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) and several civil society groups including Catholic Church (CENCO); but main opposition coalition Rassemblement, including prominent leaders Etienne Tshisekedi and Moïse Katumbi, refused to join. In Kinshasa supporters of opposition parties rejecting dialogue 1 Sept threw rocks at HQs of UNC and other opposition parties in dialogue, some twenty people arrested. UNC 12 Sept suspended participation when electoral commission (CENI) proposed holding presidential elections in 2018, preceded by local elections; AU mediator Edem Kodjo 16 Sept said parties agreed presidential, legislative and provincial elections would be held on same day. CENI would determine if local elections could also be held on same day. Rassemblement and opposition youth movement Lutte pour le Changement (LUCHA) 19-20 Sept organised protests demanding that President Kabila leave office within three months; police used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse protesters; UNHCHR said 53 people killed. Opposition party Union of Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) said pro-govt militias attacked its HQ night of 19-20 Sept. CENCO 20 Sept suspended participation in dialogue and conditioned return on Kabila not standing in next presidential election. Moderate opposition suspended participation 23 Sept citing govt repression, dialogue suspended, resumed 30 Sept. UN, AU, EU and Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) 24 Sept jointly called on political leaders to refrain from using violence. U.S. 28 Sept imposed sanctions on Maj. Gen. Gabriel Amisi, military commander of western defence zone including Kinshasa, and former police commander John Numbi. Clashes between police and people protesting growing insecurity in Kasumbalesa, ex-Katanga province 8-9 Sept killed seven people. Attacks attributed to Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militants near Beni, N Kivu killed two people 17 Sept and seven 22 Sept; rumour of ADF attack and soldier shooting in air 24 Sept caused panic, stampede killed seventeen. Fighting between militia group sympathetic to traditional chief Kamuina Nsapu and security forces at Kananga airport, Kasai-Central province reportedly killed 49.
Security forces and former members of Ninja militia clashed several times in Pool region: security forces raided Mayama night of 9-10 Sept in failed attempt to arrest Ninja leader Frederic Bintsamou aka. Pastor Ntumi, killing several people; former Ninjas 26 Sept attacked military base in Kimbedi, killing two officers and attacked bus and ambulance leaving Kinkala night of 28-29 Sept, killing three people including two soldiers.
Constitutional Court confirmed President Bongo’s re-election in 27 Aug vote, but opposition rejected results. In clashes between opposition supporters and security forces 31 Aug-1 Sept after Bongo’s victory announced, opposition said 50-100 protestors died, govt said seven; security forces arrested 1,100. Opposition candidate Jean Ping 2 Sept repeated that he had won and called for recount and French military intervention, 8 Sept asked Constitutional Court to contest results. Govt 20 Sept refused AU’s proposed mission to observe process. Constitutional Court night of 23-24 Sept said Bongo had beaten Ping with 50.66% of vote to 47.24%; Ping called ruling “unjust”, Bongo warned Ping he could be arrested and called for political dialogue; EU questioned legitimacy of results. Bongo sworn in 27 Sept. French FM 29 Sept doubted legitimacy of electoral process, called on Bongo and AU to promote reconciliation. ICC 29 Sept said it would open preliminary probe into situation before deciding on formal investigation.
Following anti-govt protests Aug, PM Desalegn end-Aug promised reforms; no significant protests reported Sept. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt 20 Sept signed contracts for studies of downstream impact of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Police shot dead three women in Mombasa police station 11 Sept; police claimed women tried to launch terror attack, human rights groups questioned narrative. Large number of Al-Shabaab militants 22 Sept attacked Hamey police post in Garissa county near Somalia border, injuring officers. Tensions rose between Aulihan and Boran clans along border of Isiolo and Garissa counties: alleged Aulihan militia from Somalia 8 Sept killed three people in Garba Tula, Isiolo county; Boran militia 10 Sept raided Tana village, Isiolo county, killing two and wounding two others. Govt 22 Sept held peace meeting with representatives from both communities in Nanyuki. Security forces 24 Sept deployed in Transmara, Narok county after Kisii and Kipsigis (Kalenjin) communities clashed over failed cattle raid.
Al-Shabaab continued to launch attacks against security forces and civilians. Militants 15 Sept captured towns of Galacad and Budh, Galmudug state, displacing thousands, 21 Sept claimed to have captured Mogokori town, Hiraan region following withdrawal of Ethiopian AMISOM contingent. In Mogadishu, militants 18 Sept carried out suicide attacks using vehicle-borne explosives against military convoy, killing Somali National Army (SNA) general and seven bodyguards. Al-Shabaab suffered setbacks: U.S. airstrikes in Torotorow, Lower Shabelle 5 Sept killed four militants; AMISOM, SNA and Jubaland Interim Administration forces 9 Sept killed 24 militants and retook villages of Biroole and Bulo Gadud, Lower Juba region; National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) 16 Sept arrested three Al-Shabaab militants sympathetic to Islamic State from Puntland in Baidoa, Bay region; SNA and AMISOM 17 Sept retook from Al-Shabaab El Wak town, Gedo region on Kenyan border; AMISOM and SNA 26 Sept killed three militants in Kismayo, Lower Juba region. Al-Shabaab 20 Sept warned Somali elders against taking part in parliamentary election and threatened to attack polling stations; govt 25 Sept postponed parliamentary elections planned to start 24 Sept to 30 Oct due to dispute over candidate selection process and delayed presidential polls to 30 Nov.
Lower house of parliament 17 Sept postponed parliamentary elections but fixed no new date.
Govt and UN made slow progress toward deployment of UNSC-authorised Regional Protection Force (RPF) as former first VP Riek Machar confirmed commitment to armed rebellion. President Kiir and UNSC delegation in joint communiqué 4 Sept committed to move toward deployment of 4,000-strong RPF as part of UN mission (UNMISS); RPF’s tasks and troop contributors being negotiated. UN mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) continued to pick up S Sudanese fighters loyal to Machar in Garamba National Park in NE DRC who fled S Sudan after fighting in July and transport them to Goma in eastern DRC citing humanitarian grounds; mission moved 635 people by 12 Sept. Over 100, whom MONUSCO handed to DRC govt, flew to Sudan, from where they returned to rebel-held areas of S Sudan; for this Kiir 13 Sept accused UN of taking Machar’s side. Machar’s group in Khartoum 23 Sept confirmed commitment to armed struggle; S Sudan’s neighbours, including Ethiopia and Sudan, said they would not allow Machar to wage rebellion from their territories. Former Minister Lam Akol formed National Democratic Movement, intended as umbrella for armed and unarmed opposition groups. Small clashes took place south of Wau, former Western Bahr el-Ghazal state and south of Bentiu, former Unity state.
Following suspension of AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP)-mediated peace talks mid-Aug, govt and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebels criticised each other’s negotiating positions. Govt 3 Sept said SPLM-N rebels’ proposal to receive 20% of aid in Two Areas from Ethiopia aimed at “political goals” and blocked govt-directed humanitarian delivery. SPLM-N 9 Sept accused army of violating cessation of hostilities in S Kordofan state. SPLM-N 2 Sept accused EU and U.S. of funding Rapid Support Forces (RSF) govt militia, deployed to Northern state in June after EU said in April that grants would be available via Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative to monitor and suppress migration; EU denied funding RSF 6 Sept. Sudan Call coalition of armed and unarmed opposition groups met in Addis Ababa 25-30 Sept to prepare for new round of talks with govt.
Govt 4 Sept hosted meeting of military chiefs from Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional bloc to discuss way forward on S Sudan. S Sudanese continued to cross border into Uganda; UNHCR 28 Sept said over 181,000 had entered Uganda since 1 July. Director of Public Prosecutions 5 Sept dropped murder charges against seventeen of 32 Muslim clerics with alleged links to Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) accused of series of murders of Muslim clerics between 2012 and 2015.
Separatist rebel Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) claimed they killed twelve Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) troops in ambush 4 Sept in northern Buco-Zau region, near border with Republic of Congo. FLEC 20 Sept accused FAA of extrajudicial execution in Republic of Congo. FLEC 29 Sept said clashes between FLEC and FAA 23 Sept and 25 Sept on outskirts of Makumeni in Buco-Zau region killed three FLEC and eighteen FAA.
Indirect talks between govt and Renamo armed opposition restarted 12 Sept but made no progress toward ceasefire. Govt-Renamo Joint Commission 20 Sept agreed Renamo would propose plan for integration of rebel fighters into army and police; mediators 27 Sept presented commission with proposal on appointment of governors in contested central and northern provinces. Renamo gunmen 2 Sept reportedly murdered local govt official and traditional chief in Nhamatanda district, Sofala province. Security forces early month reportedly stormed Renamo base in Sabe, Morrumbala district, Zambezia province. Renamo 19 Sept reportedly held up nine vehicles in Chupanga area, central Sofala province. Unidentified gunmen 22 Sept shot dead Armindo Antonio Nkutche, Renamo member of Tete provincial assembly in Moatize, Tete province; Renamo blamed ruling Frelimo party.
Constitutional court 5 Sept dismissed petition by main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) against President Lungu’s 11 Aug re-election on grounds that constitutional deadline for submission had passed. Lungu inaugurated 13 Sept.
Political and economic crisis deepened as govt continued to repress protests and regime supporters assaulted opposition party leaders. President Mugabe 4 Sept accused judiciary of recklessness for allowing opposition rallies. Police 1 Sept banned protests in Harare for two weeks, High Court 5 Sept ruled ban unconstitutional but later suspended ruling. Police 13 Sept again banned protests in Harare for one month from 16 Sept. Dozens arrested 17 Sept during demonstrations for electoral reform in several towns and cities including Bulawayo. Ruling party ZANU-PF supporters 25 Sept assaulted four senior officials of Zimbabwe People First opposition party including former ambassador to Mozambique Brig. Gen. (Rtd.) Agrippa Mutambara. Govt 13 Sept revoked previous cost-saving decision to cut civil servants’ salaries and bonuses and 15 Sept said reserve bank would start issuing “bond notes” in Oct to address cash shortage. Botswana President Ian Khama 21 Sept urged Mugabe to step down.
Attack on customs office in Markoye in far north 1 Sept killed civilian and customs officer, wounded three, claimed by Islamic State in the Sahara, previously unknown jihadist group. Govt 15 Sept said former PM Gen. Zida who left country Feb will be prosecuted for desertion. Former PM Tiao returned from exile in Côte d’Ivoire 9 Sept, authorities 16 Sept arrested and indicted him for injuries, murders and complicity in crackdown against Oct 2014 uprising. Convention of former ruling party Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) scheduled for 24 Sept postponed; party denounced political and judicial intimidation while many alleged leadership feuds. Koglweogo civilian self-defence group members 7 Sept crossed into Niger in pursuit of alleged bandits, clashed with locals, leaving two dead and ten wounded from both sides.
Political climate remained polarised ahead of planned Oct constitutional referendum and Nov legislative elections. Authorities freed eight imprisoned supporters of former President Gbagbo 6 Sept. Govt and opposition 8 Sept revived permanent framework for political dialogue with formal meeting, govt said it would free 60 imprisoned opposition supporters by end of 2016, but opposition leader Pascal Affi Nguessan continued to reject constitutional referendum and demand election of constituent assembly to draft new constitution instead. Govt 28 Sept formally adopted new constitution bill. U.S. 14 Sept lifted economic sanctions imposed Feb 2006 against political actors for blocking peace process.
President Condé and leader of main opposition party Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea Cellou Dalein Diallo met 1 Sept; Condé pledged to implement previous agreements. Following opposition demands to organise local elections, election commission 7 Sept said local elections would be held 18 Dec; govt and opposition 22 Sept relaunched political dialogue to debate electoral timeline and process, electoral commission reform, updating voter roll and freeing political prisoners.
Following 10 Sept visit by mediators from ECOWAS regional bloc, govt and opposition 11 Sept agreed to six-point plan to end political crisis. ECOWAS leaders 20 Sept formally adopted plan including holding inclusive dialogue, forming consensus govt and pursuing constitutional and electoral reform. Following suspension of payments in June, IMF 12 Sept said it could restart payments after govt cancelled bailouts of private banks amounting to 5.5% of GDP.
Continued fighting and armed group split in north further undermined peace process and violence persisted in centre. Communal rivalries within main separatist rebel alliance Coalition of Azawad Movements (CMA) led to creation of splinter, Movement for Salvation of Azawad (MSA) 2 Sept. MSA and ethnic Imghad Self-Defence Group of Imrad Tuareg and Allies (GATIA), member of pro-unity Platform coalition, 15 Sept agreed to run joint patrols. Deadly fighting between GATIA and CMA resumed 16 Sept in Kidal region after talks aimed at cessation of hostilities initiated mid-Aug ended without reaching agreement. Platform fighters 18-26 Sept took control of formerly CMA-held areas, clashing sporadically with CMA combatants. Unidentified attackers 25 Sept killed one army officer and relative in Timbuktu, army 26 Sept accused jihadists. Armed banditry, targeting NGOs in particular, rose in Ménaka region. Violence in centre continued. Unidentified gunmen attacked gendarmerie outpost near Bandiagara, Mopti region 1 Sept, wounding one gendarme. Gunmen same day attacked another outpost near San, Segou region, stealing weapons and ammunition; jihadist group Ansar Dine claimed responsibility. After armed forces retreated from Boni to Douentza, both Mopti region 1 Sept, alleged jihadists took control of Boni 2 Sept, but next day jihadists fled, reportedly taking local official hostage, and armed forces returned with air support from UN mission; in light of attacks President Keita sacked Defence Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly 3 Sept. Gunmen ambushed army convoy near Boni 9 Sept, killing three soldiers, wounding two.
Security situation in Diffa region in south east remained critical. Alleged Boko Haram (BH) fighters attacked inhabitants in Toumour 2-3 Sept, casualties unclear. IED killed two soldiers and wounded two others near Barwa 8 Sept. Alleged BH fighters ambushed army convoy near Toumour 12 Sept, killing five, wounding six; security officials said army killed 30 BH. Govt 6 Sept said it would deploy U.S.-trained elite police in Diffa region to secure border with Nigeria. In north east new Tebu armed group, Movement for Justice and Rehabilitation of Niger, 6 Sept threatened to resort to violence to obtain “fundamental rights” for Tebu minority and protect environment near oil sites.
Security in north east showed signs of improving, but Boko Haram (BH) insurgents vowed to continue attacks and militants in Niger Delta continued to vandalise oil facilities. BH fighters ambushed civilian convoy between Monguno and Maiduguri, Borno state 10 Sept, killing one; ambushed army-escorted commercial convoy between Damboa and Maiduguri 19 Sept killing six civilians and wounding three soldiers; attacked Kwang and Boftari villages, southern Borno state 27 Sept, killing at least eight civilians; BH factional leader, Abubakar Shekau, appeared in video 25 Sept after period out of public eye, rejecting army’s claims he had been seriously wounded in airstrike. Army said BH attacked military post 25 Sept in Maiduguri area, eight soldiers and two dozen BH fighters killed. Army 28 Sept said troops killed nine suspected BH at Bulabulin, Borno state. Army said it will soon launch “Operation Rescue Final” to free all BH’s abductees. In Niger Delta, main militant group Niger Delta Avengers maintained unilaterally declared ceasefire till 23 Sept when it claimed responsibility for attack on Trans Niger Pipeline, Rivers state, forcing Shell oil company to close pipeline. Another armed group, Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, bombed major pipelines of govt-owned Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in Delta state 18 Sept and 29 Sept. Gunmen kidnapped fourteen oil company staff in Ogba Egbema Ndoni local govt area, Rivers state 2 Sept; five escaped and police 17 Sept said it had rescued remaining nine after gun battle. Army 17 Sept said it had killed 23 militants and destroyed 38 militants’ camps in Niger Delta since “Operation Crocodile Smile” started 29 Aug. Soldiers killed fifteen suspected bandits in Dumburun forest, Zamfara state 7-10 Sept. Clash between robber gang and locals at Senga village, Benue state 14 Sept killed at least thirteen locals. Shia Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) 19 Sept said it would protest in Abuja if govt did not release within two weeks its leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, arrested Dec 2015 after clash between IMN members and army in Zaria (north). Police 22 Sept used tear gas to disperse IMN protesters in Abuja.
Bomb exploded 10 Sept during police raid of suspected militant’s home in Xinjiang’s Hotan county, reportedly killing at least one police officer; authorities allegedly arrested seventeen suspects, imposed media blackout.
Chinese President Xi and Japanese PM Abe 5 Sept met on sidelines of G20 summit in Hangzhou in first one-on-one meeting since Dec 2015. Xi said countries should “put aside disruptions” and normalise relations. Both leaders urged caution on South and East China Sea issues. China and Japan 14-15 Sept held fifth round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs; reportedly agreed to accelerate negotiations on planned Maritime and Air Communications Mechanism to mitigate risk of military and law enforcement clashes. Both reaffirmed need for earliest possible signing of bilateral maritime search and rescue agreement. Fleet of over 40 Chinese aircraft 25 Sept flew through strategically important Miyako Strait for the first time on way to “regular training” in Western Pacific; Japan responded sending jets to scramble Chinese aircraft.
Following international condemnation of recent missile tests, DPRK 5 Sept fired three more medium-range Rodong missiles from western town Hwangju; ROK said at least one landed in Japan’s air defence identification zone. UNSC next day condemned test as “grave violation” of international obligations. DPRK 9 Sept conducted its fifth and largest nuclear test at Punggye-ri nuclear test site, causing 5.3-magnitude artificial earthquake. China condemned test, “strongly urged” DPRK to adhere to denuclearisation goals. U.S. sec defence urged China to use its influence to promote denuclearisation; Beijing said U.S. should shoulder “due responsibility” for tensions in Korean peninsula. U.S. envoy 11 Sept said U.S. pushing for new sanctions against DPRK; Chinese FM Wang Yi 13 Sept told ROK counterpart China would consider taking part in discussions on new sanctions. Two U.S. B-1 bombers 13 Sept flew over ROK in apparent show of force; U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-1B Lancer strategic bomber 21 Sept performed aerial patrol over demilitarised zone (DMZ), reportedly closest USAF bomber has ever flown to DPRK border. Senior U.S. military official said flight demonstrated “ironclad” bond between U.S. and ROK, and U.S. commitment to “defend and preserve the security of the Korean Peninsula and the region”. U.S. President Obama and Chinese Premier Li 19 Sept agreed to step up cooperation in UNSC and “law enforcement channels” to push forward denuclearisation on peninsula. China reported it had opened investigation into Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Company, Chinese conglomerate with extensive trading ties with DPRK, over allegations of “serious economic crimes”; reportedly followed warnings of illegal activities from U.S. officials, who sanctioned the same entity 26 Sept; investigation into other Chinese companies also underway.
Twin suicide bombs targeting defence ministry and security forces in central Kabul 5 Sept killed around 35; Taliban claimed responsibility. Taliban 6 Sept stormed office of NGO CARE International, holding at least 40 hostages and killing one civilian; security forces rescued hostages same day, killed all three gunmen. Govt 22 Sept signed peace deal with country’s second-largest but largely dormant insurgent group Hizb-e-Islami, headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is accused of carrying out war crimes in 1990s. Deal controversially grants Hekmatyar amnesty, allows his return from exile on condition that his group accept constitution, renounce violence. Head of High Peace Council said he hoped deal could be “beginning of a permanent peace in our country”; hundreds protested against deal 22 Sept. In Kunduz, security forces 5 Sept retook strategically important Qala-e-Zal district, captured by Taliban late Aug; also retook Khanabad and Aliabad; police 3 Sept reported Kunduz-Takhar highway reopened. Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) 8 Sept successfully repelled Taliban assault on Uruzgan provincial capital Tarin Kot, which saw intermittent clashes late month. Second VP Mohammad Sarwar Danish 8 Sept said preparation for parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct and rollout of electronic identity cards had begun. However parliament rejected draft laws following week, increasing tensions with executive. National Unity Govt (NUG) marked two year anniversary 30 Sept, missing original deadline to implement electoral reforms and establish PM position. In 28 Sept statement Chief Executive Abdullah’s office said NUG and his position will continue for five years. Mass repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan continued to overwhelm Afghanistan’s ability to resettle returnees, with 67,000 returning in Aug, up from 1,250 in June, and over 40,000 returning in a single week 18-24 Sept according to UNHCR. EU document leaked ahead of 4-5 Oct Brussels conference on Afghanistan revealed EU plans to condition aid on Afghanistan’s acceptance of 80,000 deported asylum seekers. UN 29 Sept said U.S. drone strike targeting Islamic State militants 28 Sept killed at least fifteen civilians in Nangarhar’s Achin district.
Security forces 2 Sept killed alleged Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) commander suspected of providing arms and training gunmen responsible for July Gulshan attack. Police 11 Sept reported another suspect in Gulshan attacks, Abdul Karim, killed himself during police raid on alleged militant hideout in Dhaka. Opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia 1 Sept accused police of political motivations in anti-militant raids, less than one week after home minister claimed that Gulshan and Sholakia attacks had been “politically instigated”, implicating Jamaat-e-Islami. Police 6 Sept pressed charges against Tarique Rahman, BNP senior vice chairman and son of Khaleda Zia, on sedition case filed Jan 2015 for “provocative” speech; Dhaka court 29 Sept issued warrant for Rahman’s arrest. Visiting Dhaka 29 Aug, U.S. Sec State Kerry reinforced U.S. support to country in fight against militancy; also met with Zia and BNP’s Sec Gen, who sought U.S. support for restoring democracy and rule of law. Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali executed 3 Sept after Supreme Court 30 Aug dismissed his petition to review judgment upholding death sentence for atrocities committed during 1971 war. Pakistani and Turkish govts condemned execution; Dhaka dismissed criticisms as “brazen interference”.
Security forces 11 Sept reportedly killed top Maoist leader Ashish Yadav after rebels opened fire on police in Gumla district, Jharkhand; local police chief called incident “turning point in battle against Maoists”. At least two other alleged Maoists and two security officials reportedly killed in separate encounters between rebels and security forces throughout month in Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
Relations between India and Pakistan reached lowest point since 2011 after four armed militants 18 Sept stormed army base in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Uri region, killing eighteen and injuring around 30. New Delhi blamed Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad for attack; Indian home minister 18 Sept accused Pakistan of complicity in transnational terrorism, called it “terrorist state”. Indian PM Modi 19 Sept called for “clear evidence of Pakistan’s complicity” in Uri attack to be presented in international forums including UNGA. Pakistan’s army chief same day said “armed forces of Pakistan are fully prepared to respond to entire spectrum of direct and indirect threat” from India. Tensions over India’s crackdown on protesters in Indian-administered Kashmir continued to build: Pakistan permanent representative to UN Human Rights Council 14 Sept called for independent UN investigation into situation in Kashmir; India responded criticising Pakistan for human rights violations in Balochistan. India 28 Sept said it would not attend South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit, major regional initiative being hosted by Pakistan in Nov; Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan joined India in boycotting summit. India decided to suspend Indus Waters Commission talks until “Pakistan-sponsored terrorism” ended, with PM Modi 26 Sept saying “blood and water cannot flow together”; Pakistan Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan would consider it an “act of war” if India revoked 1960 Indus Waters Treaty. India 29 Sept announced it had carried out “surgical strikes” against suspected militants along LoC; Pakistan denied strikes on its territory, said two of its soldiers had been killed by “unprovoked” Indian fire, also reported it had detained an Indian soldier; villagers reportedly evacuating on Indian side. Indian Army 20 Sept claimed to have killed ten suspected militants allegedly trying to infiltrate Uri from across LoC. Indian army 10 Sept reportedly entered most volatile regions of Kashmir, including Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag, for first time since 2014. Security forces 12 Sept claimed to have killed seven youths in three separate gunfights during two-day operation in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
One year since Sept 2015 constitution’s adoption, unresolved demands from Madhesi parties to amend provisions on new provincial boundaries, inclusion, and proportional representation continue to hinder its full implementation. Some fear that not addressing these differences – especially on state restructuring – prior to elections may jeopardize proposed timelines to hold local, provincial, and federal polls before the current parliament’s term ends in January 2018. PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal visited New Delhi 15-18 Sept, met with Indian PM Modi and FM to continue rebuilding bilateral relationship following downturn in ties under previous UML-led govt. Amid calls for head of Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) – govt’s top anti-corruption body – to be impeached due to irregularities surrounding his 2013 appointment, CIAA began investigation 16 Sept into misuse of funds allocated for cantonment of ex-Maoist combatants while they awaited voluntary retirement or integration into state security forces following 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Fringe group of ex-Maoist combatants arrested for allegedly planting IEDs near eight Kathmandu-based schools 20 Sept. Nepal Army Colonel Kumar Lama 6 Sept acquitted by UK court of conflict-era torture charges; had been detained in Jan 2013.
Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for series of attacks throughout month, including: suicide bomb at mosque in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) 16 Sept killed at least 36, mostly teenagers; suicide bomb at courthouse in Mardan district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) 2 Sept killed thirteen; attack on Christian neighbourhood in Peshawar same day killed one security guard. Both Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Islamic State’s Amaq news agency claimed responsibility for 18 Sept attack on army van in Peshawar, in which three army personnel were killed. Two separate bombings 12 and 13 Sept in Quetta left two Balochistan Constabulary personnel and two police officers dead; both Jamaat-ul-Ahra and TTP main faction claimed responsibility. Joint Afghan-NATO airstrikes 25 Sept reportedly killed fourth-highest ranking TTP commander Azam Tariq, along with at least nine other alleged militants in Afghanistan’s Paktika province. Afghan ambassador next day confirmed Tariq’s death. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) 2 Sept submitted resolution in National Assembly condemning self-exiled MQM founder Altaf Hussain’s 22 Aug remark that “Pakistan is a cancer” and “epicentre of terrorism for the entire world”. MQM leaders 21 Sept called for treason proceedings against Hussain in Sindh Assembly, calling him traitor to Pakistan. Police 16 Sept arrested MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan, releasing him several hours later after Sindh Chief Minister and PM Sharif condemned arrest. MQM chief Farooq Sattar said police failed to present warrant or reason for arrest. Members of U.S. Congress 20 Sept introduced draft legislation that would require report from White House and state department on why Pakistan should not be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law. In first video statement in five years, leader of Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) armed group 30 Sept said group is planning further attacks on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
During first visit to country since 2009, UNSG Ban 1 Sept commended govt on peacebuilding and reconciliation measures, while calling on it to reduce military presence in north and east to help build confidence among minority Tamils. Sinhala nationalist groups protested Ban’s visit, carrying placards in support of military victory against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances 15 Sept welcomed govt’s openness to international engagement, urged govt “to make clear progress in the justice area, including in terms of the international involvement in the accountability process”; govt said it is drafting legislation to incorporate International Convention on Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance into domestic law, also said report by countrywide Consultation Task Force (CTF) on transitional justice will be presented mid-Oct. Estimated 10,000-15,000 Tamils, including Northern Chief Minister C.V Wingeswaran, rallied in Jaffna 24 Sept to demand end to “Sinhalisation” of north, federal constitution and international investigation into alleged genocide; criticised Tamil National Alliance engagement with govt. More than twenty Tamil long-term political prisoners began hunger strike 21 Sept, demanding their release; govt same day announced 23 other detainees to be sent for six-month period of “rehabilitation” prior to release. President Sirisena 22 Sept met with U.S. Sec State Kerry, who called for “meaningful reconciliation and justice” in Sri Lanka, and “expressed confidence that govt will fulfil its international commitments”. Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and six others released on bail after appearing in Colombo court 30 Sept on corruption charges.
Thousands of Papuan demonstrators 20 Sept rallied across Indonesia in support of Pacific Coalition on West Papua’s (PCWP) call for representation at UNGA and independence referendum for West Papua. Police dispersed rallies, reportedly arresting at least 75 protesters; local media said authorities had also conducted arbitrary arrests in lead-up to 20 Sept demonstrations. Speaking at UNGA, leaders of six Pacific Island states 25 Sept accused Indonesia of human rights violations in Papua, some calling for recognition of West Papua’s right to self-determination; Indonesia rejected accusations, condemned interference.
Four-day “Panglong-21” peace conference in Naypyitaw ended 3 Sept, launching new phase of peace process. Conference attended by nearly all armed groups – except for three groups without bilateral ceasefires; inclusivity of armed groups represented significant step forward, but there were signs of frustration by some armed groups attending, and many challenges ahead. Govt stated that it plans to hold biannual conferences. Over a dozen clashes since 30 Aug between Karen splinter group and govt troops/border guard force in Kayin state; around 4,000 displaced, dozens of combatant casualties reported. In rare admission of culpability, court martial 15 Sept found seven Myanmar army personnel including four officers guilty of murdering five villagers in Shan state in June, sentenced them to five years’ hard labour. Arakan National Party (ANP), opposition USDP and nine other parties 16 Sept issued joint statement supporting symbolic vote in Rakhine state legislature calling for the disbanding of newly-established Advisory Commission on Rakhine state, headed by former UNSG Kofi Annan, over lack of Rakhine political representation, inclusion of foreigners. During mid-Sept visit to U.S., Aung San Suu Kyi met with President Obama, who announced lifting of nearly all U.S. sanctions on Myanmar other than arms embargo and visa restrictions on some former military leaders, also reinstatement of GSP trade preferences. Suu Kyi 21 Sept spoke at UNGA. Opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), established by former regime, announced major leadership reorganisation 23 Aug, new executive committee.
Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for bomb attack at market in Davao City 2 Sept which killed fifteen people and injured at least 68. President Duterte declared indefinite nationwide “state of lawless violence” following attack; said this was not martial law, but he “may invite uniformed personnel to run the country according to [his] specifications”. Duterte 6 Sept formally upgraded situation to “state of national emergency”. Police 9 Sept released sketches of main suspect in bombing, said alleged bomber suspected of involvement in “narco-terrorism”; 14 Sept filed charges against nine additional suspects. Davao City bombing came just days after Abu Sayyaf vowed to respond to late Aug launch of military operation in Sulu province in which at least 30 Abu Sayyaf militants were killed. Operation against Abu Sayyaf intensified throughout month, reportedly involving deployment of some 7,000 troops since late-Aug. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command 23 Sept reported that twenty members of Abu Sayyaf had surrendered to security forces 22 Sept, following three weeks of armed forces’ “relentless operation” in Sulu. Four Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and one Abu Sayyaf fighter reportedly killed 2 Sept in Sulu as violence broke out between Abu Sayyaf and MNLF, who were assisting AFP in operations against Abu Sayyaf. Meanwhile, Bangsamoro peace process appeared to maintain positive momentum. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Al-Haj Murad 14 Sept expressed optimism about ongoing peace negotiations with govt, said negotiating panel had been changed into “implementation panel”, as agreed with Duterte administration. MNLF chair Muslimin Sema 16 Sept said MNLF “confident of very promising days soon for the Mindanao peace process”. Historic ceasefire between govt and National Democratic Front (NDFP) communist rebels continued to hold throughout month; ahead of second round of Oslo peace negotiations 6-10 Oct, NDFP 28 Sept said agenda will include general amnesty proclamation on release of all political prisoners, expected to “give a big push for the peace negotiations”; govt and NDFP said they hope to come up with draft of ceasefire document. Duterte 26 Sept said he would seek to open trade alliances with China and Russia during upcoming visits, while maintaining ties with U.S.; 28 Sept said upcoming joint military exercises with U.S. will be last, since China does not want them.
Chinese and ASEAN leaders 7 Sept formally signed guidelines for senior diplomats’ hotline for emergencies at sea and joint statement on Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in South China Sea (SCS) during ASEAN summit in Laos. In 8 Sept joint statement China and ASEAN agreed to uphold freedom of navigation in and over SCS; committed to resolving territorial disputes through peaceful means including “friendly consultations and negotiations” in accordance with international law. Also during summit, Japanese PM Abe promised to offer patrol boats to Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada 15 Sept said Japan would step up activity in SCS through joint trainings and exercises with U.S. and other regional navies; echoed U.S. concerns that consequences of Beijing’s “rule bending” in SCS “could become global”. Chinese state-run Global Times 17 Sept published editorial warning any U.S.-Japan joint patrol in SCS would prompt Beijing to increase military deployment “to balance the situation”. Chinese defence ministry 29 Sept said any joint patrol between Japan and U.S. in SCS amounts to “playing with fire”, and “China’s military will not sit idly by”. Contradicting April 2016 joint patrol arrangement between U.S. and Philippine defence chiefs, Philippine President Duterte 13 Sept said he would no longer allow joint patrol of disputed waters in SCS with foreign forces including U.S. and China. Chinese and U.S. presidents met 3 Sept ahead of G20 meetings in Hangzhou; agreed to finalise MoUs on maritime law enforcement cooperation and rules of behaviour between coast guards. Vietnamese PM Phuc 11 Sept visited Beijing, first official trip to China by Vietnamese premier in six years, met with President Xi; Chinese state media reported they affirmed commitment to prioritising friendly bilateral relations.
Police 5 Sept announced first arrest of suspect in 11-12 Aug bombings in upper south that killed four people: all suspects Malay-Muslims from southernmost provinces, some linked to previous attacks. Senior officials maintain bombings unrelated to insurgency. Benar News 6 Sept reported that Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) claimed responsibility for the attacks to signal its displeasure with lack of progress in peace dialogue; govt officials dismissed claim. Delegations from govt and MARA-Patani (umbrella group of separatists in exile) met in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur 2 Sept as part of Joint Working Group-Peace Dialogue Process; discussed establishment of safety zones and revised Terms of Reference, agreed that unofficial talks would continue. PM Prayuth Chan-ocha 15 Sept issued order establishing ten-member “forward cabinet” to help coordinate govt agencies working in Deep South. Several people killed in attacks by suspected separatists in deep south during month, including railway worker killed by bomb on train in Pattani 3 Sept. Young girl, her father and one other person killed by bomb near school in Narathiwat 6 Sept. Three policemen killed in ambush in Yala province 23 Sept. PM Prayuth increasingly employed Article 44 of interim constitution, which affords him far-reaching authority to issue orders free from judicial oversight or review: 12 Sept ordered end to military trials for civilians, but not retroactively (more than 1,800 civilians have been brought before military courts since May 2014 coup); 13 Sept issued order allowing govt to seize assets of former PM Yingluck Shinawatra and five other former officials for losses incurred in her govt’s rice-pledging program. State-appointed committee 25 Sept recommended Yingluck pay 35.7bn baht ($1bn) fine, amounting to 20% of losses in 2012 and 2013.
Six leading opposition figures detained 10-11 Sept after criticising 2013 constitution at forum which police said lacked permit and breached public order decree. Govt rejected expressions of concern from New Zealand and Australia over freedom of speech as “interference”. National Federation party boycotted opening session of new Fijian parliament late month.
Controversial referendum in Republika Srpska (RS) 25 Sept saw 99.81% of voters reportedly approve entity continuing to mark annual 9 Jan “RS day”, despite Nov 2015 Constitutional Court ruling that celebration was unconstitutional; turnout reported at 55.67%. Referendum proceeded in face of objections from Bosniaks and from country’s western partners that it challenges authority of state institutions, and in defiance of Constitutional Court’s 17 Sept approval of temporary ban on referendum, saying RS does not have authority to challenge state institution. Belgrade said it did not support referendum but would not attempt to prevent it; Moscow expressed support for referendum, RS President Dodik met Russian President Putin 22 Sept. State prosecutor 26 Sept opened investigation into referendum, summoned Dodik for questioning; Dodik said he would not travel to Sarajevo to appear, citing concerns for his safety. Referendum took place as country prepared for local elections 2 Oct. EU Council 20 Sept formally accepted Bosnian membership application, contingent on wide-ranging reforms.
Parliament 1 Sept delayed vote on controversial border agreement with Montenegro, which was meant to proceed that day, amid ongoing opposition protests. Adoption of deal is one of the conditions for EU visa liberalisation.
Ahead of early parliamentary elections scheduled for 11 Dec, four main parties 2 Sept formed interim govt.
PM Hovik Abrahamyan resigned 8 Sept after continuing unrest following July Yerevan hostage crisis and ongoing economic downturn; President Sargsyan 13 Sept appointed former Yerevan mayor and top executive at Russian gas company Gazprom Karen Karapetyan new PM, 20 Sept reshuffled cabinet. Govt and three opposition parties 13 Sept signed agreement on new anti-fraud measures in Electoral Code that was approved 25 May, ahead of May 2017 parliamentary elections. German FM 2 Sept stated that country’s parliamentary resolution in June recognising Armenian genocide not “legally binding”, in apparent move to ease tensions with Turkey. Armenia demonstrated its Russia-produced short-range ballistic missile systems “Iskander” at military parade to celebrate 25th anniversary of independence declaration.
26 Sept referendum resulted in approval of all 29 proposed constitutional amendments, widely criticised by international observers as means to strengthen rule of President Aliyev and stifle dissent. Over 90% of voters approved extending presidential term to seven years and eliminating age limit for presidential candidates; other amendments included lowering minimum age for parliamentary candidate, giving president right to dismiss parliament, creating two VP posts to be appointed by president. Council of Europe 20 Sept warned proposed constitutional amendments would “upset the balance of power”, give president “unprecedented” powers; govt rejected criticism. Turnout reported at over 63%. Ahead of vote govt continued crackdown on free speech and dissent: dozens of political activists detained; independent newspaper Azadlyq suspended 6 Sept; writer Akram Aylisli called to prosecutor-general’s office 6 Sept on charges of assaulting government representatives in March. Authorities 9 Sept released prominent opposition movement figure Natig Jafarli, detained 12 Aug. Baku authorised anti-govt demonstration by National Council of Democratic Forces 17 Sept and rally against referendum by Musavat party 18 Sept. UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders 22 Sept said Azerbaijan had “paralysed” its civil society.
Tbilisi strongly condemned holding of elections for Russian State Duma in breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia 18 Sept, including in address to UNGA by PM Kvirikashvili. European Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee 5 Sept approved visa liberalisation regime for Georgia, paving way for future vote on visa liberalisation by EU ministers. De facto Abkhazia leadership reshuffled early Sept; de facto FM resigned 20 Sept.
Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations of repeated ceasefire violations. Nagorno-Karabakh (N-K) and Armenian defence ministry condemned Azerbaijan for killing Armenian soldier on Karabakh-Azerbaijan line of contact 2 Sept. In 16 Sept speech at Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in Bishkek, Armenian President Sargsyan expressed support for OSCE Minsk Group process, asserted state would accept “reasonable mutual compromise” on N-K. OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs met with Armenian and Azerbaijani FMs 20 Sept on sidelines of UNGA; FMs accused each other of impeding process toward peaceful settlement. UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein highlighted continuing inability to send UN fact-finding missions to N-K since April clashes; N-K de facto officials blamed Baku for obstructing access to area.
Amid continuing crackdown on dissent ahead of 18 Sept elections, Chechen court 6 Sept sentenced freelance journalist Zhalaudi Geriyev to three years in labour camp in trial seen as fabricated; political analyst Ruslan Martagov went missing for several days early Sept after being summoned to Chechen Ministry for Nationality Policy, Foreign Affairs and Information. Chechen republic head Ramzan Kadyrov elected governor of Chechnya in regional elections with 97% of vote. Electoral Committee 21 Sept called investigation into electoral violations in Dagestan, where violent clash broke out at polling station in Khunzakh district; took place amid widely-reported electoral fraud on national scale. In Dagestan, two suspected militants and one police officer reported killed in counter-terrorist operation in Magaramkent district 5 Sept; security forces reported six suspected militants including alleged local gang leader Magomed Khalimbekov killed in counter-terrorism operations in Makhachkala and Izberbash 7 Sept; three unidentified armed men killed by security forces in Tabasaran district 23 Sept. Deputy imam of Stavropol mosque reportedly murdered 26 Sept. Military court in Rostov-on-Don 7 Sept sentenced four followers of Hizb ut-Tahrir to five to seven years in prison on charges of “organising activity of and participating in a terrorist organisation”; one of the men was found guilty of organising a Hizb ut-Tahrir cell in Ukraine’s Sevastopol.
Parliamentary election 11 Sept saw opposition parties gain two seats in parliament for first time in twenty years. OSCE monitors described “some improvement”, called for “faster progress” on reforming electoral conduct; UN human rights envoy for Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, noted “clear lack of political will to promote and protect human rights in Belarus”.
Leader of self-proclaimed Transdniester Moldovan republic 7 Sept issued decree calling for region to join Russia by 1 Nov, in line with 2006 referendum in region which saw 97.2% vote in favour of move; Moldovan govt does not recognise referendum.
Minsk Contact Group 20 Sept published framework agreement on withdrawal of Ukrainian army and separatist forces from three small segments of line of separation; agreement states redeployment of troops/equipment will only take place after seven days of unbroken ceasefire in planned separation sites. However reports continue of regular exchanges of fire along many parts of 500-km line, despite two ceasefires being declared during month. Several combatants reported killed 13 Sept on both sides, including three Ukrainian troops and three separatist fighters. UN 15 Sept reported at least 9,640 killed in conflict; 66% increase in civilian casualties in east May-Aug compared with previous three-month period. President Poroshenko 21 Sept met with U.S. VP Biden, who urged him to accelerate reforms to strengthen energy and justice sectors, and next day warned that failure to enact economic and political reform could undermine European support for Russian sanctions, scheduled for discussion by EU leaders in Oct. U.S. 1 Sept announced new round of sanctions targeting Russian individuals and companies involved in Russia’s intervention in Ukraine; EU ambassadors 7 Sept decided to extend similar sanctions. European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee 26 Sept backed proposal for visa-free travel for Ukraine. EU expressed concern over apparent moves by Ukrainian parliament to dilute effectiveness of electronic declarations of income, part of anti-corruption measures needed for visa liberalisation. U.S. 8 Sept announced agreement with Ukraine to deepen defence cooperation with appointment of U.S. special adviser to Ukraine’s defence minister. IMF 14 Sept approved delayed $1bn loan disbursement, reiterated call for progress on reforms. Several senior LNR officials arrested during Sept for alleged complicity in Aug coup plot in separatist entities. One suspect, former PM Gennadiy Tsypkalov, reported to have committed suicide in Ministry of State Security HQ. Donetsk separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko 22 Sept reported DNR sent battalion of troops to LNR to reinforce LNR security. International investigation into 2014 downing of passenger airliner over Ukraine 28 Sept reported that missile was fired from territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists, and missile launcher brought into Ukraine from Russia. Rights groups reported intimidation of voters in Crimea ahead of 18 Sept Russian parliamentary elections.
Intensive rounds of talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders continued. After meeting between Akıncı and Anastasiades 14 Sept, UN Special Envoy Eide stated the two sides were committed to peace deal before end of year, but crucial gaps remain; reported “significant progress” on chapters of governance and power-sharing, economy, and property. Speaking in Nicosia 18 Sept, Akıncı stated that rotating presidency is one of the “indispensable topics for the equality of Turkish Cypriots”, without it “there will be no deal”. Turkish Cypriot administration rejected Greek Cypriot proposal published in media 18 Sept for deployment of 2,500 EU police officers to replace current guarantorship system. Akıncı and Anastasiades met with UNSG Ban 25 Sept, who urged them to reach accord. Greek Cypriot leader reportedly rejected calendar proposal demanded by Turkish Cypriot leader late Sept.
Turkish military offensive into Syria together with Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel fighters continued, targeting Islamic State (IS); Turkish officials 5 Sept declared border with Syria cleared of IS militants, with control now held by Turkish forces and local rebel factions. U.S. Special Forces in Syria joined Turkish troops and FSA along border 15 Sept; President Erdoğan same day said Turkey-backed rebels might push further south within Syria to create “safe zone”. Erdoğan 20 Sept said he supported plans to push IS out of Raqqa stronghold, but Turkey would not act unilaterally; also stated President Assad could not be part of transitional period in Syria. On 22 Sept two rockets reportedly fired from IS-held territory in Syria hit the border town of Kilis 22 Sept, injuring eight. Domestic investigations into IS-linked individuals continued, including four people arrested 16 Sept after intelligence revealed IS plan to target UK and German embassies. Intense clashes between state security forces and PKK militants continued, resulting in death of 66 state security force members, at least 41 PKK/PKK affiliated militants, and at least eight civilians 1-30 Sept. Ankara’s anti-PKK rhetoric continued to harden; following 14 Sept attack killing ten members of security forces in Ağrı’s Doğubeyazıt district, new Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu vowed Ankara would be “relentless” in fight against PKK and other terrorist organisations. Mehmet Öcalan, brother of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, visited him 11 Sept, reported he was in good health and that he called for end to Kurdish conflict. Interior ministry 11 Sept appointed trustees to replace mayors in 28 municipalities, 24 allegedly linked to PKK and run by Democratic Union Party (DBP), sister party of pro-Kurdish HDP. HDP representatives met with Iraqi Kurdistan region President Barzani 21 Sept asking him to relaunch peace process in Turkey. Crackdown against individuals thought to be linked to Gülen network (state-christened FETÖ/PDY) continued, including an additional 543 judges, 820 military personnel and 28,163 teachers dismissed early Sept; more than 100,000 public officials now reportedly dismissed/suspended since failed coup attempt. Justice minister announced 28 Sept that around 32,000 have been arrested since coup attempt. Govt purges extended to govt critics, individuals allegedly linked to PKK and leftists; 11,000 teachers in east and SE suspended over suspected links to PKK.
Month saw President Nazarbayev reshuffle govt, including PM Masimov appointed head of National Security Committee, former First Deputy PM Bakyrzhan Sagintayev appointed PM. President’s daughter and former First Deputy PM Dariga Nazarbayeva appointed to Senate 13 Sept, became head of Senate Committee for Foreign Relations, Defence and Security 16 Sept.
Following 30 Aug suicide attack on Chinese embassy in Bishkek, Chinese media blamed Chinese ethnic Uighurs and Islamic State, while Kyrgyz security services (GKNB) blamed Uighur terrorist group affiliated with al-Nusra which it claimed called on Uzbek-led Tavhid va Jihod’s leader to finance and organise attack. GKNB alleged that ethnic Uighur suicide bomber with Tajik passport was member of East Turkestan Islamic Party (ETIM). Dispute over controversial constitutional amendments proposed by govt late July escalated into standoff between current administration and former members of 2010 interim govt, with President Atambayev and Ata Meken party leader Omurbek Tekebayev exchanging mutual accusations of corruption and abuse of power, and tensions almost causing collapse of parliamentary coalition 14 Sept. Following President Atambayev’s pledge during his independence day speech 31 Aug that he would make members of interim govt “answer for marauding, robbery and instigation of separatism” in 2010, govt 15 Sept opened investigation into alleged crimes of 2010. President Atambayev reportedly suffered heart attack while travelling to UNGA 19 Sept; diverted to Turkey then Moscow for treatment. Referendum on proposed constitutional amendments expected 4 Dec; 94 lawmakers 29 Sept voted in favour of referendum, eleven against.
U.S.-trained former head of Tajikistan’s Special Assignment Police Force (OMON) Gulmurod Khalimov, who defected to Islamic State (IS) in 2015, reportedly promoted to IS’s minister of war responsible for militant training and combat.
Ahead of presidential elections in 2017 which President Berdymukhamedov has called to be competitive, constitutional amendments adopted 14 Sept increasing presidential term from five to seven years, scrapping upper age limit of 70 years.
President Karimov officially declared dead 2 Sept, buried in Samarkand next day. PM Shavkat Mirziyoyev chosen by parliament as acting president 8 Sept; apparent support from political and security elites prompting expectation among observers that he will be formally elected president during 4 Dec presidential election, with broad continuity with his predecessor’s policies. Border guards services reported their withdrawal from Ungar-Too Mountain, border area disputed with Kyrgyzstan, 18 Sept.
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Rodrigo Londoño alias “Timochenko” and President Santos 26 Sept signed final peace agreement in Cartagena, to be voted on in national plebiscite 2 Oct. Signing ceremony followed FARC decision 23 Sept to ratify 24 Aug peace agreement. Month saw intense campaigning for plebiscite, with polls late month suggesting majority of voters likely to approve deal. FARC asked victims of past crimes for forgiveness during signing ceremony, earlier in month announced it would organise “public act of recognizing responsibility” for 1994 massacre of 35 civilians by FARC in Antioquia; FARC representatives 10 Sept met with relatives of eleven parliamentarians from Valle del Cauca department killed while imprisoned by FARC in 2007. Group also began release of child soldiers. National Liberation Army (ELN) 12-15 Sept imposed armed shutdown of business and closed roads in Arauca, Boyacá, Casanare, Norte de Santander, Santander and Vichada provinces, warned state authorities not to disobey shutdown. Group repeatedly said it will respect FARC’s decision to sign peace agreement, although it disagrees with terms of accord; announced unilateral ceasefire 30 Sept-5 Oct to facilitate plebiscite vote. ELN leader Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista alias ‘Gabino’ 1 Sept declared group will respect “Temporary Village Zones for Normalization” (ZVTN) cantonments where FARC troops will gather to hand over weapons, but warned that skirmishes with govt forces may occur in areas where cantonments abut ELN territory. Both ELN and criminal groups showed signs of moving into former FARC territory, including ELN in southern part of Córdoba. Thirteen social activists killed since 24 Aug signing of peace agreement, many of them outspoken defenders of peace process or opposed to coca cultivation.
Opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance staged largely peaceful mass demonstration in central Caracas 1 Sept demanding recall referendum against President Maduro before end of 2016. Hundreds of thousands joined rally; police and national guard units deployed in partly successful attempt to prevent demonstrators from provincial cities reaching Caracas. Month also saw wave of arrests of MUD activists, mostly leaders of Popular Will (VP) party of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López; over 170 reportedly arrested in period from 1 Sept according to NGO Penal Forum. Supreme Court (TSJ) 5 Sept ruled all decisions by opposition-controlled National Assembly null and void since 28 July, when three MUD legislators from Amazonas state took seats in defiance of TSJ’s 30 Dec 2015 ruling that they be suspended pending investigation into alleged electoral fraud; TSJ suggested it may launch criminal proceedings against the three legislators. Delegations from MUD and ruling Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) 9-10 Sept met for another attempt at confidential “pre-dialogue” talks, however talks collapsed after confidentiality agreement was broken. According to MUD, talks were to discuss conditions for recall referendum signature-gathering process, while other reports suggest PSUV was pushing for abandonment of referendum and deal to bring forward elections and partially restore institutional rule. CNE 22 Sept stated MUD will be allowed in late Oct to gather signatures needed to force recall referendum. MUD 26 Sept said it rejected conditions imposed by CNE, including no referendum in 2016, but would combine gathering signatures with protests. Mercosur members 14 Sept agreed Venezuela should not be allowed to exercise organisation’s rotating presidency, threatened suspension from bloc in Dec over its failing to adapt legislation to Mercosur rules four years after joining.
Senior human rights prosecutor Orlando Lopez, investigator of crimes committed by military commanders during civil war, arrested 23 Sept on homicide charges linked to alleged hit-and-run incident reported by right-wing group; Lopez’ supporters say charge is malicious litigation. Follows apparent weakening of “Juntita” group of former military officers widely perceived to have undue influence over President Jimmy Morales’ govt, including through Supreme Court’s 29 Aug lifting of parliamentary immunity of retired colonel and deputy leader of Morales’ National Convergence Front (FCN) group in Congress, Edgar Ovalle, in order to investigate accusations of human rights violations during armed conflict. Revelations on 13 Sept of possible involvement of Morales’ son and brother in corruption scandal posed new threat to govt stability, while International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and attorney general’s office same day disclosed investigation of corruption in National Registry of Property.
Ahead of first round of repeat presidential and legislative elections 9 Oct, Electoral Observation Mission composed of officials from Organization of American States (OAS) and other international observers underwent training by Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) in Haiti in effort to prevent repeat of 2015 electoral fraud. UNSC’s 31 Aug report on MINUSTAH mission denounced weak operational and institutional capacity of national police force and its absence in rural areas; described security in Haiti as “calm but fragile”, noted increase in public demonstrations, third of which marked by violence; reported some 33% of protests politically motivated or election-related. Report recommended extending MINUSTAH mandate, set to end 15 Oct, for six months, and deploying strategic assessment mission after 7 Feb 2017 (date for swearing in of new president). Fears of greater insecurity intensified after truck loaded with weapons, ammunition, and diverse military equipment, originating from Miami, was seized by Haitian authorities 8 Sept. Various physical assaults on candidates during campaign events reported late Sept, leading President Privert to declare “zero tolerance” toward electoral violence. Amid concern over ongoing spread of cholera and zika virus and lack of funding to address causes, five-month strike from doctors and medical personnel ended 1 Sept.
Govt report 1 Sept listed 63,816 homicides since President Peña Nieto took office in 2012, 17% increase in homicides during the first half of 2016 compared with same period in 2015. Most homicides reportedly due to assassinations by criminal organisations, accounting for 80% of killings in Guerrero, Colima and Tamaulipas states. Women’s activist group discovered 75 clandestine graves in Veracruz 7 Sept. Activists defending cause of 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa continued demonstrations during month, criticising attorney general and failure to carry out investigations specified by Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI). Special attorney for Ayotzinapa case 13 Sept announced that both state and federal police officers suspected of involvement in case would now be investigated. Attorney general’s head of investigations Tomás Zerón resigned 15 Sept due to allegations of wrongdoing in Ayotzinapa case, immediately promoted to national security adviser to president. Public approval ratings of President Peña Nieto reached historic low of 23%.
Ramallah-based Palestinian Supreme Court 8 Sept suspended municipal elections scheduled for 8 Oct in West Bank and Gaza, citing inability to hold vote in East Jerusalem; decision upheld at appeals court 21 Sept. 8 Sept ruling came shortly after Gaza courts had disqualified several Fatah lists based on legal complaints from Hamas. Fatah and Hamas blamed each other for suspension of elections, which would have been first polls contested by parties in a decade. Stabbings and drive-over attacks against Israelis resumed after end of Eid al-Adha 12 Sept following three months of relative calm, fuelling concerns for security ahead of Jewish high holidays starting early Oct. Two Palestinians and one Jordanian killed by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in separate incidents 16 Sept after allegedly attempting to stab Israeli citizens in Jerusalem and Hebron. PM Netanyahu facing pressure domestically, as pro-settlement forces within Jewish Home party and Likud pushed to legalise Amona outpost, threatened with evacuation under 2014 Supreme Court ruling. French and Egyptian presidents both used addresses at UNGA 20 Sept to reiterate their efforts to advance diplomatic process between Israel and Palestine; followed 8 Sept announcement by Russia that Israeli and Palestinian leaders had agreed “in principle” to meet in Moscow for talks. Diplomatic Quartet 23 Sept reiterated condemnation of Israeli settlements for eroding viability of two-state solution; settlement expansion also singled out by UNSG Ban and U.S. President Obama during speeches to UNGA. U.S. and Israel 14 Sept agreed aid package including unprecedented $38bn military assistance over ten years. Uptick in clashes between Syrian regime and rebel forces in Quneitra, S Syria early Sept led to unprecedented violence in Israeli-occupied Golan; Israel attacked sources of fire, deployed additional defensive measures including air-defence system Iron Dome.
Parliament failed to elect new president for 44th time 7 Sept due to lack of quorum. Speaking at UNGA 22 Sept, PM Salam urged international community to devise plan for “safe and honourable return” of over a million Syrian refugees to prevent Lebanon from “collapsing”. Intermittent security incidents continued including roadside bomb in Zahle 31 Aug targeting supporters of Shiite Amal movement allied to Hizbollah and Damascus; one person killed, eleven wounded. Three people injured by bomb in Beqaa Valley village 6 Sept; four suspects arrested, one of them purportedly linked to Druze Tawhid party founded by pro-Assad former Minister Wiam Wahhab. Army 22 Sept announced arrest of local Islamic State (IS) leader accused of terrorist activities near Palestinian refugee camp Aïn el-Helweh in south. Several injured 19 Sept in armed clashes involving Lebanese and Syrian refugees in Dawhet Aramoon, south of Beirut. Authorities 16 Sept reportedly uncovered assassination plot against Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.
Unravelling of early Sept Syria ceasefire deal between U.S. and Russia followed by worst level of bombardments for months in Aleppo city; thousands of pro-govt forces reported late month to be preparing for advance on rebel-held areas. Following months of bilateral negotiations U.S. and Russia 9 Sept reached deal on coordination, setting out initial seven-day period for both pro-regime and non-jihadi opposition forces to re-commit to and implement Feb 2016 Cessation of Hostilities, and stipulating that aid would enter both sides of Aleppo. Assuming successful initial trial period, U.S. and Russia would then begin to coordinate targeting of Jabhat Fath al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra), with regime to cease airstrikes in areas where opposition present. Both sides observed Cessation of Hostilities agreement at least partially for four days beginning 12 Sept, with notable decline in violence despite some reports of violations in different Syrian cities. However aid blocked from start, tensions increased after U.S. 17 Sept mistakenly bombed Syrian army outpost in Deir al-Zor in east, reportedly killing 62 soldiers. Syrian army 19 Sept announced it would no longer observe truce. Deadly attack on UN aid convoy same day blamed on regime and Russian air force, prompting international outrage; Russia denied. Bombing in rebel-held part of Aleppo resumed, worsening 21 Sept; Syrian army 22 Sept announced new military offensive on city. Reports emerged next day that Russia started using “bunker-buster” bombs in Aleppo, inflicting unprecedented destruction. 400 civilians killed in offensive’s first week, according to UN’s top official for humanitarian affairs. At UNSC 25 Sept, UK, U.S. and French ambassadors accused Russia of war crimes; Moscow called remarks “unacceptable”. Russia rejected calls to end bombing, offered 48-hour pause; U.S. threatened to end talks, reportedly considering sanctions against Russian and Syrian individuals and insitutions. Month saw further reports of regime use of chlorine gas on rebel-held part of Aleppo 6 Sept. Following Turkey’s late-Aug military incursion into north, situation between forces loyal to Kurdish YPG and Turkish-backed rebels remained tense; Ankara hinted it may push SW to capture IS stronghold al-Bab. U.S. Special Forces reportedly deployed with Turkish and rebel forces, despite small 16 Sept local demonstration against their involvement.
Appeals court 22 Sept upheld ruling to dissolve main al-Wefaq Shiite opposition group. Authorities 5 Sept brought new charges against detained rights activist and opposition leader Nabeel Rajab including spreading rumours and undermining prestige of kingdom.
P5+1 (E3+3) countries and Iran met in New York 22 Sept to address problems implementing nuclear deal. Construction of country’s second nuclear power plant began 10 Sept with Russian assistance, expected to take ten years. U.S. navy patrol ship narrowly avoided colliding with Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ vessel reportedly harassing it near Strait of Hormuz 4 Sept. Govt 11 Sept threatened to shoot down two U.S. navy surveillance aircraft over Strait of Hormuz. Govt and Saudi Arabia failed to agree on arrangements for Iranians to take part in pilgrimage to Mecca fuelling hostile rhetoric on both sides, but managed to agree to curb oil production by Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries by 700,000 barrels per day.
Govt forces and allies continued to recapture territory from Islamic State (IS) in north as militants maintained attacks elsewhere and tensions in govt festered. In preparation for govt forces’ offensive to recapture IS stronghold Mosul, U.S. deployed over 400 more troops early Sept lifting official total in Iraq to 4,460. Advancing toward Mosul, govt forces and allied militias 20-22 Sept ousted IS fighters from Shirqat, 100km south of Mosul. IS claimed responsibility for shooting at checkpoint and two bombs at Tikrit, 150km north of Baghdad 24 Sept that killed eighteen people. Suicide bombings in Shiite-dominated neighbourhoods in Baghdad claimed by IS killed at least seventeen civilians 27 Sept. Turkish warplanes reportedly destroyed Kurdish PKK insurgency’s ammunition depot and shelters in Qandil mountains in north 26 Sept. Parliament 21 Sept passed vote of no confidence in Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) member, over allegations of corruption, forcing him out of office. KDP vowed legal challenge; Zebari 22 Sept accused former PM Maliki of orchestrating removal.
Huthi rebels in Yemen continued missile attacks into Saudi Arabia and cross-border operations, 25 Sept offered truce which govt rejected (see Yemen). Govt 19 Sept said police had arrested seventeen suspected Islamic State members from three cells preparing attacks.
As U.S.-led peace efforts foundered and fighting continued, govt’s decision to move Central Bank from Sanaa to Aden risked provoking more intense violence in coming weeks. Building on initiative by U.S. Sec State Kerry late Aug, U.S. proposed revised peace plan including 72-hour ceasefire to Huthi rebels 8-9 Sept. Huthis 25 Sept said they would stop attacks if Saudi-led coalition stopped bombing and lifted naval blockade; Saudi Arabia rejected truce. Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued airstrikes in Huthi-controlled areas killing at least 58 civilians in Saada and Hajjah provinces in north during month and 26 civilians in residential neighbourhood of Hodeida in NW 21 Sept. Govt forces supported by Saudi-led coalition and Huthi/Saleh fighters continued to battle over Serwah area in Marib province and Midi district in Hajjah province. Huthi rebels continued firing missiles into Saudi Arabia and launching cross-border ground assaults: rebels captured military post in Jizan region, Saudi Arabia 11 Sept. President Hadi’s govt 19 Sept fired Central Bank director and said it would move bank from Huthi-controlled Sanaa to govt-controlled Aden, alleging that bank was financing Huthis. Govt with U.S. backing continued fight against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP): U.S. drone strikes 24 Aug-4 Sept killed thirteen militants in Shabwah province; militants 11 Sept clashed with pro-govt forces in Zinjibar, Abyan province; suspected U.S. drone strikes in Marib and Bayda provinces 20-24 Sept killed fourteen suspected militants; armed forces 26 Sept killed AQAP local commander Abdullah Hubaibat in Loder, Abyan province.
Govt said army 29 Sept killed five suspected armed Islamists in south east.
Islamic State militants continued attacks in Sinai peninsula. Attack 1 Sept killed at least two soldiers and injured five. Soldier died in clashes between security personnel and militants near Rafah 20 Sept. IED attack on army vehicle near El-Hasna same day killed one soldier and injured another. Govt 22 Sept said unidentified gunmen shot dead policeman and injured two others near al-Arish police station. Unidentified gunmen 28 Sept shot at minibus in al-Arish, killing three policemen and driver. Amid surge in migrants trying to reach Europe from Egypt, govt said at least 202 drowned when boat capsized off Egyptian coast 21 Sept, 22 Sept said security forces arrested four suspected people smugglers.
Libyan National Army (LNA) of General Khalifa Haftar, opposed to internationally recognised Presidency Council (PC), 11 Sept took control of crude oil export terminals of Sidra, Brega, Zuwetina and Ras Lanuf, and Ras Lanuf petrochemical plant and refinery, defeating or co-opting PC-allied Petroleum Facilities Guards. Local anti-Haftar forces in following days launched several counteroffensives without success. Oil exports resumed late-month after three-year break through Tripoli-based internationally recognised National Oil Corporation (NOC). PM-designate Serraj 27 Sept said Haftar should be represented in new, more inclusive govt, pledged to “quickly” submit new cabinet line-up. In Sirte, Misratan-led forces, nominally loyal to PC, continued fighting Islamic State (IS); ten IS and nine pro-PC fighters reportedly killed 22 Sept; two U.S. airstrikes 26 Sept killed six IS fighters. Unidentified gunmen 19 Sept kidnapped two Italians and one Canadian near border with Algeria.
Govt 7 Sept said it dismantled terrorist cell linked to Islamic State (IS) planning attacks in north; 22 Sept said police arrested one suspected IS-linked militant in Meknes 21 Sept and three in Tangiers and M’diq 16 Sept. Tensions rose between royal palace and Islamist Justice and Development Party and its allies ahead of Oct parliamentary elections; politicians accused palace of seeking to influence elections and staging 18 Sept anti-Islamist march in Casablanca. Govt 22 Sept submitted request to rejoin AU 32 years after leaving.
Protests and labour activism disrupted first weeks in office of PM Youssef Chahed’s national unity govt. Govt 21 Sept said British oil and gas company Petrofac started to shut down local operations after months of protests by people seeking jobs disrupted gas output, 23 Sept said it reached deal with company and protesters to resume activity.
EU Advocate General 13 Sept told European Court of Justice in non-binding statement that EU-Morocco agricultural and fishery products trade deal does not apply to Western Sahara because it is not part of Morocco; court to make final decision Nov. UN sought compromise on standoff between Morocco and Polisario Front armed independence movement in Guerguerat region near Mauritanian border, mid-Sept reportedly proposed that both sides withdraw armed personnel from buffer strip and only peacekeeping mission MINURSO deploy to complete contested road works.