AFGHANISTAN: Kabul registers several serious attacks on same day
The Afghan capital, Kabul, registered several serious attacks in just one day. The first of these took place just outside the Ministry for Defence, where two bombs went off. The first explosion caused tens of dead and was followed by a second detonation that killed several Afghan senior security officers that had gone to the area after the first attack. According to sources from the media, among the 40 casualties there were two generals, several coronels and many soldiers and police officers. Many civilians who were at a market next to the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence were also killed in the double attack. Moreover, 110 people were injured. Hours later, the offices of the NGO CARE International were attacked by armed men. After the bomb went off, there was intense gunfire lasting 11 hours that killed three of the assailants and six other people were injured. The Taleban insurgency claimed the authorship of both attacks. (The New York Times, 6/9/16)
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Violence escalates in the country
Sources from the security forces reported the death of at least 20 people in the town of Kaga-Bandoro (the centre of the country, Nana-Grébizi prefecture) by rebel militias, which allegedly have ties to ex-Séléka groups. These groups then set fire to and looted dozens of houses. The MINUSCA peacekeeping mission in the country stated that the outbreak of violence was caused by clashes between factions of groups linked to the former Séléka coalition and the anti-balaka militias. Kaga-Bandoro is the stronghold of a faction of the former Séleka coalition, the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC), led by Nourredine Adam. Adam has been subject to international sanctions for his role in violence episodes in 2013 and 2014. Local sources place the number of fatalities at 26. (AFP, 18/09/16; Al-Jazeera, 18/09/16)
INDIA (JAMMU & KASHMIR): 19 Indian soldiers and four insurgents die in attack on Indian military base near the Pakistani border
An insurgency attack on India’s Uri Armed Forces base, very close to the Line of Control, the de-facto border with Pakistan, killed at least 19 Indian soldiers and four Kashmiri insurgents. This is the deadliest attack against Indian security forces in Kashmir in recent decades. The Indian security forces blamed the armed opposition group Jaish-e-Muhammad, which is based in Pakistan, and hinted that the Pakistani Government may be behind the attacks. The Armed Forces highlighted that at the time of the attack there were a large number of troops in the base who had just returned from an operation. Most of these troops were staying in tents that caught fire during the attack. The attack came at a time of high tension in the Jammu and Kashmir region after months of intense social protest after an activist that was iconic to many Kashmiri youth was murdered by the Indian Armed Forces in July. As a consequence of the protests, more than seventy people have died, mostly civilians. In response to the attack, the Indian Armed Forces started a series of selective attacks on insurgency camps in Pakistani territory along the border, although Pakistan has denied these operations taking place. (The Guardian, 17/9/16; The New York Times, 18/9/16)
MYANMAR: New clashes between Armed Forces and several insurgency groups
Myanmar’s Armed Forces continue with their offensive against the armed opposition group KIA in Kachin State with aerial bombings and against other positions of the armed group in Shan State, where fighting has been ongoing for several months. Some sources point out that the aim of this offensive would be to force the armed group to join the ceasefire agreement. In a parallel development, more than 3,000 people were forced to flee their homes as a consequence of the escalation of violence between the Armed Forces and the armed faction of the group DKBA Na Ma Kyar, in Karen State. The aim of these clashes would be to capture the leader of the armed group, Saw Saw Aung and start a large-scale offensive against the insurgency organisation. Part of the forcefully displaced population has taken refuge in Thailand, along the border with Myanmar. Some sources have highlighted that the purpose behind the fighting in this area would be to control lands close to the bases of the armed opposition group KNU (one of those that signed the national ceasefire agreement), and to build a dam that is currently on hold and which the KNU opposes. At the same time, clashes were registered between the two armed opposition groups KNLA and MNLA in the region of Tanintharyi, where both dispute the lands. (The Irrawaddy, 9, 12 & 23/9/16)
NIGERIA (BOKO HARAM): The UN warns of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world in the region affected by Boko Haram
United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer, who is also the regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, has declared that if the regions affected by the conflict with Boko Haram around Lake Chad, which includes parts of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, do not receive more aid, they will turn into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The UN has requested $739 million (657 million euros) in order to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance, but has so far only received $197 million, far short of the commitments made by governments and international organisations. According to UN data, over six million people are currently in serious conditions of food insecurity in the Lake Chad area, of which 568,000 are severely malnourished. (DW, 30/09/2016)
NORTH KOREA, DPRK: North Korea carries out its fifth nuclear test, the second in 2016
North Korea has carried out its fifth nuclear test, the most powerful in its history, sparking an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale. The test, which was carried out on 9 September, was condemned by the international community, including China. The USA said it would begin talks to impose new sanctions on Pyongyang, ordering several of its bombers to fly over North Korea and the so-called Demilitarized Zone on the border between North Korea and South Korea. China, a country conventionally opposed to unilateral sanctions being imposed, and the USA, which on numerous occasions has called on China to exert its influence on the North Korean government to end its nuclear programme, agreed to redouble cooperation efforts at the heart of the UN in order to secure the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Days before carrying out its fifth nuclear test–the fourth was carried out in January, detonating a hydrogen bomb–the UN Security Council had already condemned North Korea’s launch of three medium-range missiles, one of which fell inside Japan’s Air Defence Identification Zone, also stating it was a serious breach of its international obligations. Shortly before, in August the UN Security Council had already unanimously condemned North Korea’s launching of ballistic missiles at the start and end of the month. Two of those missiles entered Japan’s exclusive economic zone and Air Defence Identification Zone, viewed as a clear threat by the Japanese government. In August also, the North Korean government acknowledged it had resumed plutonium production, violating several UN resolutions. Indeed, the foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea urged North Korea to refrain from provocation and to follow the UN resolutions. (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, 08/09/16; Washington Post, CNN, 09/09/16; Aljazeera, 13/09/16; Guardian, 05/09/16; Korean Times, 04/09/16)
PAKISTAN: Different insurgency attacks in several cities kill almost 60
Several cities around the country have been the scene of insurgency-led attacks. On 2 September a suicide attack at a court in the city of Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, killed 11 people. 20 more were injured as a consequence of the explosion that occurred when the policy tried stopping the assailant from entering the building. In recent months there have been several attacks against lawyers, the most serious of which was in August in Quetta, where 70 people died, mostly lawyers. The armed opposition group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed the Mardan attack. There was another attack that same day in Peshawar. Four suicide bombers attacked a building where some 100 workers from the Warsak damm were living, all of whom are Christians. The four assailants and three other people died in the attack. Days later a new attack rocked the tribal area of Mohmand. At least 29 died and 20 more were injured after a bomb exploded in a mosque while many attended the Friday prayers. The armed group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar also claimed authorship saying they had targeted Government followers. This armed group was established in 2014 and is made up of several different Taleban factions coming from four of the seven tribal districts along the border with Pakistan, and is lead by Omar Khalid Khorasani, a Taleban leader with strong ties to al-Qaeda, which would have supplied the group with financial and material means. (The New York Times, 2 & 16/9/16)
PHILIPPINES (MINDANAO-ABU SAYYAF): Government blames Abu Sayyaf for attacks on a market in Davao killing 15 people and injuring a further 70
An attack in a market in Davao (Mindanao) in early September left 15 people dead and 70 injured. The government said Abu Sayyaf had claimed responsibility for the attack, although some media sources reported that an ally of the group had been behind the attack and even the government said it was a drug-related attack and speculated on certain drug cartels being responsible. In the following days, the President declared a state of national emergency, ordering the armed forces to wipe out the armed group. The army declared it had intelligence about the possibility of such an attack and indicated that it was Abu Sayyaf’s response to increased military operations conducted since early July, when the new President Rodrigo Duterte took office. Some 30 members of Abu Sayyaf had been killed in late August due to the military offensive. Shortly before the attack mentioned, 12 soldiers had been killed in Jolo in fighting with the armed forces, the deadliest attack suffered by the army since Duterte took office. Due to heightened conflict between both sides, 5,000 people were required to flee their homes. On the day before the attack, an Abu Sayyaf spokesperson stated that they would not wait for the armed forces to come after them at their main strongholds and claimed they had more than 1,000 fighters behind them. The armed forces said the number was entirely overstated and put the figure at no more than 400 members. They did, however, acknowledge that Abu Sayyaf continued to exert a substantial capacity to recruit new fighters. According to Manila, many are compelled, although it is necessary to consider the huge sums Abu Sayyaf receives as ransoms for releasing hostages, enabling the group to recruit people under financial hardship and offer to reinvest the income in the communities in which it operates, thus allowing Abu Sayyaf to gain social support and hindering the operations of the state counterinsurgency. Manila claims that this is one of the primary reasons why governments since the early 1990s have not been able to wipe out Abu Sayyaf militarily. Manila also stated that the terrain in jungles of Sulu and the fact that the group was fragmented into smaller factions were also aspects that hindered the fight against the organisation. Nevertheless, the army indicated that the offensive was severely decimating the group, which is running out of ammunition, while efforts to disrupt Abu Sayyaf’s supply chain were being enhanced. (Aljazeera, GMA News, Minda News, 02/09/16; BBC, 03/09/16; Philippine Star, 04/09/16; Wall Street Journal, BBC, Rappler, New York Times, 17/087/16)
SOMALIA: Violence rises ahead of the elections
The radical Islamist armed group Al-Shabaab stepped up its attacks in recent months on civilians and security forces to try to undermine the election process, which has been postponed several times and will finally take place in October and November using an indirect delegate voting system. The direct vote legislative and presidential elections have already been postponed to 2020 due to the general climate of insecurity. Finally, of note was the decision by Ethiopia to withdraw its contingent from AMISOM. (African Arguments, 19/09/16)
SOUTH SUDAN: The SSDM/CF declares a return to war after the 2014 peace agreement is breached
The current destabilisation of the peace process caused by the resumption of violence following the Juba crisis last June has been compounded by the announcement of a return to the armed struggle led by the armed group South Sudan Democratic Movement-Cobra Faction (SSDM-CF), which is currently commanded by Lieutenant General Khalid Botrus Bora. After this announcement was made, over 5,000 soldiers of the Murle ethnic group commanded by General John Welarum in the state of Borna deserted from the ranks of the national South Sudanese Army (SPLA) and joined the SSDM-CF. In May 2014, the SSDM-CF, commanded by David Yau Yau at the time, signed a peace agreement with the government of Salva Kiir, which included the creation of an administrative area for the region of Greater Pibor, a special fund to improve basic services in the area and means to provide the indigenous peoples with particular rights over their lands and resources. The SSDM-CF denounced the breach of the clauses agreed to by Kiir’s government and declared a return to armed struggle and the creation of alliances with other rebel groups to overthrow the government. (VOA, 27/09/2016; Radio Tamazuj, 27/09/2016, 01/10/2016)
SYRIA: The agreement between Russia and the United States to reactivate the ceasefire in the country collapses in a few days and gives rise to a brutal escalation of violence, especially in Aleppo
The armed conflict in Syria worsened further in September after the failed attempt to re-establish a cessation of hostilities agreement in the country. Early in the month, after months of negotiations, the United States and Russia reached an agreement aimed at reactivating a truce, facilitating access to humanitarian aid and establishing a mechanism for military cooperation between Washington and Moscow. According to media reports regarding the agreed scheme, in an initial seven-day period that began on 12 September, the forces of Bashar Assad’s regime and of the opposition were expected to once again respect the cessation of hostilities agreement reached in February. In addition, it is hoped that humanitarian aid would be transported to Aleppo (both to the pro-regime area and the zone controlled by the opposition), that Damascus would ground its air force and that Russia and the United States would start to coordinate their campaign against ISIS and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly the al-Nusra Front). However, the implementation of the agreement presented problems from the start and tensions between the parties intensified after a US air strike killed 62 Syrian soldiers in the area of Deir ez-Zor on 17 September. Washington claimed that it has been a mistake and declared that it would open an investigation. However, the Syrian regime announced two days later that it would no longer respect the truce, claiming ceasefire violations by the rebels, and announced a major offensive against Aleppo a few days later. On the same day, an air strike attributed to the forces of the Syrian regime and Russia against a UN and Red Crescent humanitarian convoy caused the deaths of 18 people, including Red Crescent staff and volunteers and the drivers of the vehicles trying to deliver aid. The episode sparked harsh criticism of Damascus and Moscow. Amidst the intense campaign waged by the Syrian regime and its allies in eastern Aleppo, in late September the Russian government was accused of war crimes by Western ambassadors in a tense UN Security Council meeting in which they denounced the use of incendiary bombs and other devices designed to cause great destruction and destroy bunkers. Russia responded by accusing the West of arrogance and of undertaking risky unilateral ventures in countries in North Africa and the Middle East. According to media reports and UN estimates, more than 400 people died in Aleppo in the last week of September alone, 300 of which died in the eastern part, including 100 children, as a result of air strikes conducted by the Syrian regime and the Russian Air Force. Another 80 people lost their lives in the western part of the city under government control, including around 30 children. In addition, in September alone, over 30 attacks on medical facilities were reported. (UN, 01-30/09/16; ICG, 01/10/16; The Guardian, 10, 11, 25/09/16; The New York Times, 19/09/16; UN News, 23/09/16)
YEMEN: The large numbers of victims in the conflict raises alarm, and a report reveals that one-third of Saudi attacks in Yemeni territory hit civilian targets
Concern is rising over the high number of civilian casualties in the Yemen armed conflict, especially after the collapse of the peace talks in August. In that month alone, at least 329 civilians were killed and 426 others were wounded in the hostilities, mostly as a result of the air campaign by the Saudi-led international coalition. In this context, the media reported in September that one out of every three Saudi air strikes had targeted civilian, including schools, hospitals, mosques, markets and other infrastructures. The investigation was carried out by the Yemen Data Project, which brings together academics, activists and human rights defenders. The group refutes Riyadh's claims that its air strikes have attempted to minimize civilian casualties. In this context, questions have been raised regarding the backing of the Saudi-led coalition by the US and the UK, which has included assistance and logistical support, but also substantial arms sales. The report points to repeated attacks on civilian targets, so chalking them up to errors is not possible. According to the study, based on public sources and supplemented by field research, since the start of the Saudi campaign in Yemen in March 2015, 8,600 air strikes have been recorded and 3,158 of those have affected non-military sites. 942 attacks were identified against residential areas, 114 in markets, 34 in mosques, 147 in schools, 26 in universities and 378 on methods of transport. The UN has also documented attacks of this kind by both sides in the dispute and human rights organizations have denounced abuses by Houthis, such as laying land mines, indiscriminate shelling and rocket attacks on residential areas and sniper attacks on civilians. In this context, there was in increase in calls for an independent international inquiry into allegations of abuse in the armed conflict. The Dutch government called for action along these lines in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to look at the issue of civilian casualties in the war in Yemen. However, the United Kingdom blocked this initiative and Slovakia, on behalf of the EU, came up with a less ambitious proposal, which involved a mission from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights with the assistance of experts. (The Guardian, 16, 19, 25/09/16; New York Times, 23/09/16)
AZERBAIJAN: Constitutional amendments to extend presidential terms and increase presidential powers are approved in a referendum amidst the repression of critical groups
A referendum on a set of constitutional amendments was approved to extend presidential terms from five to seven years, eliminate age limits for presidential candidates and expand the powers of the presidency, granting the office the ability to dismiss Parliament. Other changes included the creation of two vice presidents, to be appointed and dismissed by the president. The first vice president would serve as acting president if the president were to resign. The referendum had a turnout of 63% and won 84.2% approval according to the electoral commission. The Council of Europe’s Venice Commission had voiced concern about risks that the constitutional amendments could weaken the space for political dissent. Meanwhile, repression against groups critical of Azerbaijan continued, including opposition politicians, activists and journalists, resulting in several arrests. Various protests were also staged against holding the referendum. (Reuters, BBC, RFE/RL, 1-30/09/16)
CHINA – JAPAN: President of China and Japanese PM meet for the first time since 2015 in an attempt to settle relations and ease the tension between the countries
Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, met for the first time since December 2015 on the occasion of the G20 summit held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. Both leaders engaged in a fourfold commitment: to settle relations, to prevent disputes over the waters of the East and South China seas from getting in the way of diplomatic relations, to solve those disputes through dialogue, and to speed up the pace of negotiations to lay out mechanisms for communication between the armed forces of the two countries with the goal of minimising the consequences of unintended clashes in the disputed zones. In 2014, both leaders undertook to implement similar communication mechanisms; however, talks held ever since have almost failed outright in producing tangible outcomes. In this respect, it should be pointed out that in the middle of the month, both countries held in Hiroshima the fifth round of talks aimed at launching a Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism with both countries noting the need to sign maritime search and rescue agreements as soon as possible, among other affairs. Despite the meeting, tension between the two countries rose again after several Chinese coastguards entered territorial waters around the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the middle of the month and several Chinese aircraft, including two warplanes, flew over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands late in the month, causing Japanese jets to be scrambled in the region. One of the key issues facing the two countries since 2012 is that the so-called Air Defence Identification Zones have overlapping sections, leading to a number of clashes in recent years. In the wake of this episode, the Japanese government reaffirmed its aim to defend its territory against possible aggressions from China while the Chinese government stated that the aircraft were flying to the Western Pacific in order to conduct military drills there. Tension also mounted in the middle of the month when the Japanese Minister of Defence announced Tokyo’s aim to begin joint training patrols with the USA in the East China Sea, a region over which China holds disputes with numerous countries. The announcement was made during a US visit with several Chinese media reacting to the statements warning of possible responses from Beijing, such as the declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone in the Spratly islands. A few days prior to the announcement from the Japanese Minister of Defence, China and Russia had embarked on their yearly joint military drills that are conducted in the South China Sea. (South China Morning Post, Wall Street Journal, 05/09/16; Guardian, 04/09/16; Japan Times, 04, 11 y 24/09/16)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: Strong protests against the agreement between the Government and part of the opposition cause the death of dozens of people in the country
Intense protests took place in various parts of the country, especially in the capital, Kinshasa, against the national dialogue and the agreement between the Government and part of the political opposition. Dozens of people died in clashes between the security forces and the civilian population. The demonstrations were sparked by the signing on September 14 of the agreement between the Presidential Majority and the opposition group Union pour la Nation Congolaise (UNC). The protests also took place in other towns in the country, such as Goma, Bukavu and Beni. The governor of Kinshasa permitted the demonstrations. On September 19, at least 17 people, including three policemen, were killed, although the political opposition put the number of victims at 50. Dozens of activists were arrested, and even Amnesty International described the response as acts of systematic repression. The UN and the EU expressed their concern over the events and the US announced additional sanctions. The headquarters of three major political parties, the Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Sociale (UDPS), the Forces Nationales pour la Union et la Solidarité (FONUS) and the Lumumbist Progressive Party (MLP) were set on fire on September 20. (AFP, 20/09/16; BBC, 20, 21/09/16; Radio Okapi, 20/09/16)
LIBYA: Former General Khalifa Haftar takes control of key oil infrastructures, refuses to recognize the Government of National Accord and welcomes the support of the Egyptian authorities
Forces opposing the Government of National Accord (GNA) took control of oil terminals and infrastructures that are key for the country's economic activity, an indication of the instability and fragmentation of Libya and the competition that exists between the different political forces. The oil ports of Ras Lanuf, al-Sidra and Zuitina were seized by forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar, who publicly announced that he rejects the GNA and supports the regime in the east of the country in Tobruk. Haftar has spearheaded the resistance to recognizing the GNA, which is the result of a UN-backed agreement in December of 2015. Since then the GNA has been trying to secure its power from its base in Tripoli. The United States and several other western countries (France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain) issued a joint statement rejecting the offensive in the oil zone by Haftar, who has proclaimed himself Field Marshal of the National Army of Libya. During September Haftar criticized the UN special envoy for Libya, Martin Kobler, saying he was interfering in the internal affairs of the country. Days later, in an interview with the Associated Press, he said that Libya would be better run by a highly experienced military leader. Haftar also said that he had the support of Egypt and was consulting with its military leadership and receiving intelligence information. According to press reports, in addition to support from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, Haftar’s campaigns against some armed groups - many of them Islamists - have also received support from countries including the United States, Jordan, the United Kingdom, Italy And France. The French Government was forced to admit its military presence in Libyan territory and that it was providing support to Haftar after three French soldiers died during an intelligence reconnaissance mission last July. At the end of September, the GNA Prime Minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, said that Haftar should be represented in the new government and stressed that the country has no choice but to opt for dialogue and reconciliation. By the end of the month Kobler also called on the international community to support the GNA and act more effectively to halt the flow of arms into the country, which is subject to an embargo. According to the diplomat, there are over 26 million weapons in Libya, a country that only has six million inhabitants. Finally, it should be noted that Amnesty International also warned that more than 100 families trapped in the middle of hostilities in a neighbourhood in Benghazi were at risk of starving to death. (Reuters, 28/09/16; Middle East Eye, 27/09/16; Libyan Express, 19/09/16; The Guardian, 12/09/16; Al-Jazeera, 14/09/16; BBC, 30/09/16)
NIGER: A new armed group emerges in the northern part of the country
An organisation calling itself the Movement for Justice and the Rehabilitation of Niger issued a public statement on 6 September declaring the start of an armed struggle against the government to obtain fundamental rights. In a video, Adam Tcheke Koudigan, who presented himself as the president of the organisation, accused the government of harming the Toubou minority and of neglecting the environmental degradation of Toubou communities caused by oil fields. He also accused the China National Petroleum Corporation of “making millions of dollars” by ignoring the welfare of the locals. The Toubou are a pastoralist people that live in Chad, Libya, Sudan and Niger. In other developments, the violence of Boko Haram returned to the southeastern region of Diffa after three months with no attacks, according to the local governor. Different attacks were reported during September in Toumour and Barwa, where at least five civilians, seven soldiers and 30 Boko Haram militants were killed. These attacks have affected the humanitarian and security process in the area. (AFP, 3, 7/09/2016; PressTV, 7/06/2016)
NIGERIA (NIGER DELTA): The NDA breaks the ceasefire with an attack on an oil pipeline
The armed group known as the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) has broken the ceasefire that it had decreed on 19 August with an attack reported on 23 September against an oil pipeline in Bonny, Rivers State. In a statement released on 24 September, NDA spokesman Mudoch Agbinibo claimed responsibility for the attack as a wake-up call to the government to sit down and negotiate. Another armed group from the area, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), as well as the leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Coastal States Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum and the former federal commissioner of information, Chief Edwin Clark, harshly criticised the resumption of hostilities. On 29 September, another armed group called the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM) claimed responsibility for another attack against an oil pipeline belonging to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in Delta State. Another armed group emerged during the month, calling itself the Iduwini Volunteers Force (IWF). It is located in the area of Ekeremor, in Bayelsa State, on one of the richest oil reserves in the Delta. The new organisation has claimed responsibility for different attacks on oil pipelines during the month and has described multinational oil companies and their local counterparts as unethical instigators of violence in the Niger Delta region. In this context, the Nigerian government has launched a military operation in the area called Operation Crocodile Smile, deploying at least 3,000 soldiers on 2 September. Media reports published on 23 September revealed that six soldiers involved in the operation may have been killed in the area of Bakassi, Cross River State, by suspected members of the armed organisation Bakassi Strike Force (BSF). (This Day 9, 24, 26/09/2016; Daily Trust, 12, 23/09/2016; The Guardian, 16, 30/09/2016; Leadership, 20/09/2016; Vanguard, 23/09/2016; África Confidencial, 23/09/2016)
TURKEY (SOUTHEAST): The government seizes in 28 city councils, 24 of them allegedly linked to the PKK, aggravating tensions between the state and the Kurdish movement
The Turkish government seized 28 city councils, replacing their elected mayors with government officials through a law decreed as part of the state of emergency declared in mid-July following the failed coup attempt. Twenty-four of the affected mayors are accused of having ties to the PKK, while four others are allegedly linked to the FETÖ organisation, an acronym that the government uses to identify the movement of the cleric Gülen, which it considers a terrorist organisation and accuses of leading the attempted coup. The HDP blasted the move, which came as part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s broad definition of “terrorism” and the ensuing persecution of the Kurdish movement, including political and social groups accused of supporting the armed group PKK. Furthermore, the government has temporarily suspended 11,000 teachers from their positions for alleged links to the PKK, according to the ministry of education early in the month. This number could rise. Meanwhile, violence linked to the armed conflict grew, with new attacks by the PKK and the security forces, including the bombardment of positions held by the armed group. Acts of violence in September included military operations in the district of Çukurca (Hakkari province) during the first week in September that the Turkish Army claimed led to the deaths of 157 members of the PKK; a car bomb at a police checkpoint in front of the provincial headquarters of the AKP in Van on the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha that wounded 53 people; and a PKK attack in the region of Tendürek (district of Doğubayazıt, Ağrı province) that killed seven paramilitary troops, two soldiers and a civilian and wounded others. Furthermore, Kilis province was once again hit by missiles launched from Syria at the start of the month. Turkey opened a new front in the war in Syria by venturing forth from Kilis province. (Hürriyet, Reuters, Bianet, 1-30/09/16)
UZBEKISTAN: The Uzbek president dies after over a quarter century in power
The authorities of Uzbekistan announced the death of the country’s president, Islam Karimov, on 2 September, due to a stroke. Karimov had governed Uzbekistan, the most populous country in Central Asia, which sits on large gas reserves, since 1989 and he last stood for re-election in March 2015, in a process questioned by the OSCE. His death came without a clear successor, while Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev was appointed acting president. During his decades in power, Karimov’s regime silenced the political opposition. Organisations like Amnesty International have denounced the use of torture and other mistreatment to crack down on dissent, among other human rights violations. (Reuters, 02/09/16)
KYRGYZSTAN – UZBEKISTAN: Tension is reduced around a disputed stretch of the border following the withdrawal of Uzbek forces and the release of several Kyrgyz detainees
The latest eruption of the border crisis between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan was redirected and reduced in mid-September by Uzbekistan’s withdrawal of police and border forces that had been deployed in August in the area of Unkur-Too, a mountainous area disputed by both countries. Several Kyrgyz citizens who had been detained that month after being accused of entering Uzbekistan illegally were also reportedly released. The mobilisation of Uzbek forces had been accompanied by the affirmation of Uzbekistan’s sovereignty over the disputed area. In response, Kyrgyzstan had also deployed forces and the Kyrgyz president had ordered a review of the international border agreements signed by previous administrations. Episodes of border tension have been recurrent since the former Soviet countries of Central Asia won their independence, including with incidents involving fatalities. (RFE/RL, 19/09/16)
To subscribe to the monthly observatory or to receive information from the School for a Culture of Peace, https://llistes.uab.es
To unsubscribe, click here
For any comments or suggestions, please write to:
Tel. +35 93 586 88 42   |   http://escolapau.uab.cat   |   pr.conflictes.escolapau@uab.cat
Plaça del Coneixement - Edifici MRA (Mòdul ReceCAR A), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona)
If you cannot see the image, please click here

In compliance with Law 15/1999, of 13 December, on Protection of Personal Data, the School for a Culture of Peace informs that personal information is treated in strict confidence and incorporated into our general database in order to keep you updated on our activities.