A heavy artillery exchange occurred last week between Hamas and Israeli military forces along the Gaza border, leading to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt. In Iraq, anti-regime protests in Basrah and Thi-Qar governorates escalated in scale and violence, spreading to other areas of the country including the capital Baghdad. In Yemen, UAE-backed and Saudi-led soldiers fought with Houthi militiamen in the Hudaydah and Sadah governorates, while a rare clash between the local Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda factions occurred in Al-Qassim governorate.
Last week was marked by a surge in reported fatalities in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the start of the third session of the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference amidst a spike in violence in Myanmar.
On the week of July 8th Africa was marked by several important attacks and developments.
The Iranian military has been involved in the Syrian conflict both directly and through proxy militias since 2013. Early estimates of Iranian troops in Syria numbered around 10,000, including members of the Iranian Army as well as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its special forces unit, the Quds Force.
Nearly 2500 additional conflict, protest, and non-violent events have been added to the ACLED Nepal dataset, expanding coverage back to 2010. The newly added data indicate a relatively low level of violence against civilians, remote violence, and battles in Nepal, relative to other Asian countries. Rather, the political landscape in Nepal is more prone to cycles of riots and protests corresponding to major political events.
Since the beginning of Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in support of Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in 2015, Houthi forces have consistently mounted counter-attacks targeting border posts and cities along Saudi Arabia’s southern border. **Although many attacks are conducted by militias fighting guerilla style, there has recently been an increase in the number of missile and armed drone strike attempts targeting cities further north into Saudi territory, including in Riyadh.** In addition to Saudi ground troops, soldiers combatting Houthi fighters and missile barrages reportedly …
Spanning from 2010 to the present, ACLED’s dataset for Myanmar includes over 5,000 recorded events. The data cover three political periods: the tail-end of the military dictatorship through 2010, the Union Solidarity and Development (USDP) administration from 2011 to 2016, and the start of the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government from 2016 to present.
The 2017 Qalamoun offensive (see here for more on this topic) disengaged Lebanese territory from the Syrian Civil War resulting in greater stability in Lebanon. This can be seen in the overall reduction in the number of political violence events and reported fatalities in the country following the end of the offensive. The increased stability appears durable, particularly in light of the lack of reported political violence between armed groups before and after the Lebanese elections in May 2018.
Last week in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber reportedly killed and wounded around 40 people in Jalalabad. Most of the victims belong to Afghanistan’s Sikh and Hindu minority groups and included the only Sikh electoral candidate in the upcoming general election. Additionally, the arrest of a district militia leader and close aide of Vice President Dostum led to a number of demonstrations in several provinces throughout the week, including a riot in Maymana City in which one demonstrator was reportedly killed.
Demonstrations dominated the events reported last week in several countries across the region including in Bahrain, Iran, and Turkey. In Syria, intense activity was reported in Dar’a governorate last week as the government and its allies continued their offensive against rebel and Islamist factions, while parallel offensives in Idleb and northern Hama governorates also continued. Meanwhile, Syrian Democratic Forces conducted security operations in Syria’s Al-Hasakeh governorate targeting Islamic State (IS) militants.
Key political violence highlights from the first week of July 2018 in Africa include the cross-border incidents between Uganda and the DRC, Ethiopia and Sudan, and Burundi and Rwanda; the targeting of French officials and troops in Cameroon and Mali; and the signs of political tensions in Algeria and Ivory Coast.
Over 1000 events have been added to ACLED’s Cambodia dataset — extending coverage back to 2010 — bringing the total number of reported political violence, protests, and other non-violent events in the dataset to nearly 2000. The majority of events in Cambodia during this newly covered time period (2010-2014) continue to be protests and riots, many of which are concentrated in Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh. The 2010-2014 period was, however, also much more volatile, in terms of number of events recorded, relative to more recent years.
On 4 February, the Nigerian government declared that it had defeated Boko Haram (see ACLED, 12 April 2018 for further detail). However, although air and land forces continue to conduct successful raids against the remaining Boko Haram positions in the Lake Chad region, the sect has proved remarkably difficult to rout. There have been minimal Boko Haram attacks against military targets, but the group continues to target civilians in eastern Borno and north-east Adamawa States (see Figure 1).
Following the protracted Battle for Mosul between October 2016 and July 2017, the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq was subsequently pushed out of its other major strongholds in Telafar and Haweeja. With the further loss of the border town of Al-Qaim, its last bastion in the Anbar Province, the proto-state in Iraq came to an end. Since then, the Islamic State has devolved from a group with the ability to seize and control territory back into an insurgency as it was recognized before the capture of Mosul.
Since its formation in November 2014, the Yemeni branch of the Islamic State (IS) has undergone major changes in its organisation and tactics. Thanks to a more radical stance that has attracted several fighters from the Salafist movement and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group has contributed to increasing sectarianism in Yemen.
This infographic by ACLED Africa Research Manager, Margaux Pinaud, depicts the number of protests and riots in selected countries in Africa (1 January – 30 June 2018), featuring highlights from the last week of June 2018.
A concentration of political violence was reported last week in Syria and Yemen with proportional rises in events in both southern Syria and Hudayda governorate in Yemen, respectively. Meanwhile, a rise in particular event types has been recorded in other countries in the region, including a rise in reports of kidnappings by Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq last week. Significant demonstrations were also reported in Iran, where labour groups condemned hardship caused by the fall in the Iranian rial.
Last week was marked by major protests in Afghanistan, ongoing election turmoil in Pakistan, and militant violence in Indonesia. In Afghanistan, following the end of the ceasefire, levels of political violence further increased by 20% compared to the previous week, which is a total hike of over 78% compared to the week of the ceasefire. In light of this spike in violence, people across 16 provinces took to the streets last week to demand peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government and an end to the war.
Important developments in Africa in the week of June 24th included the Fulani violence in Nigeria and Benin; the high militant activity in Cameroon, Egypt and Mali; the tensions in CAR’s Nana-Gribizi prefecture; and the continued violence in South Sudan tainting the progress made simultaneously at the negotiations’ table. Relevant protests and riots also occurred on the continent on that week and will be the subject of a separate ACLED update.
Notable trends, including offensives, continued in several countries, including Israel, Palestine, Syria and Yemen. Meanwhile, counter-insurgency operations by Turkish forces were stepped up both inside and outside of the country.