Pakistan and Bahrain to increase economic cooperation – PGI reports
In what is seen as a significant move, Pakistan and Bahrain are to increase economic cooperation according to local press. Elsewhere, the so called Islamic State remained under pressure from offensives in both Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi security forces advanced further in Islamic State-held Mosul, capturing the Zahra neighbourhood, while pausing to consolidate positions in other areas.
In Syria, the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces continued an advance against the group 10 km south from the towns of Ain Issa and Suluk towards Raqqa.
Tunisian security forces killed a suspected militant leader in the Kasserine governorate on 9 November three days after Islamic State claimed the killing of a soldier in the same area, underscoring the continued risk posed by Islamist militants in the region.
In Egypt, security forces clashed with militants in Cairo and the North Sinai, and there were increasing tensions ahead of calls to protest on 11 November which failed to result in significant mobilisation.
Army arrests four militant supporters in Batna – 8 November
According to a defence ministry statement, the army arrested four supporters of a militant group in Batna. Initial reports did not confirm the exact location of the arrest or the identity of the militant group involved. Islamist militant groups have a presence in northeastern Algeria and the area occasionally witnesses clashes between security forces and militants.
Security forces seize 17 rockets, machine guns in Adrar – 7 November
According to defence officials, the army seized 17 rockets, 28 grenades, 20 Kalashnikov machine guns and 200 rounds of ammunition in Adrar. Photographs on the Ministry of Defence website showed S-5 rockets and a UB-32 launcher. Arms seizures are common in Algeria though rocket seizures are rare. The rocket systems were used extensively by combatants in Libya during the 2011 civil war.
Pakistan and Bahrain to increase economic cooperation – 8 November
According to Pakistani media, Manama, the capital of Bahrain and Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, agreed to increase economic cooperation during a meeting in Bahrain. Local media did not immediately specify what measures would be taken or what sectors would be targeted but it was confirmed that a Bahraini delegation would visit Pakistan in January 2017.
Cairo boosts security ahead of planned protests – 11 November
Riot police were deployed in Cairo and nationwide in anticipation of possible protests against government austerity measures. The move comes following a call for protests on 11 November by the Ghalaba Movement social media campaign over weakening economic conditions. Authorities have said that they foiled a Muslim Brotherhood plot to cause unrest. Anti-government protests have been limited following the introduction of a controversial protest law in November 2013.
Aramco suspends oil deliveries until further notice – 7 November
Petroleum Minister Tarek el-Molla said that Saudi Aramco had suspended its oil shipments to Egypt until further notice, giving no reason for the decision. Earlier in 2016, Saudi Arabia agreed a USD 23 bn deal to provide 700,000 tonnes of refined oil products each month for five years. Petroleum shipments to Egypt stopped arriving in October. Following the cancellation, reports emerged of oil talks between Cairo and Iran, denied by the Egyptian oil ministry.
Gunmen kill Army general in Sinai – 6 November
Gunmen killed a top Army general outside his home in northern Sinai. The military has blamed the attack on an Islamic State affiliate in the region. Brigadier-General Hisham Mohammed Mahmud was killed by three gunmen in el-Arish, according to a Facebook statement by the military. Islamist attacks on the military are common in Sinai.
Cairo gun battle kills two militants – 4 November
Security forces raided a suspected militant hideout in Gesr el-Suez district, eastern Cairo, prompting a gun battle in which two militants were killed and five others were injured. Three police officers and one militant were also apprehend in the security operation, which lasted for around 30 minutes. No details regarding the affiliation or identity of the suspects were immediately provided.
Total to use euros to avoid US sanctions in Tehran gas deal – 9 November
French oil major Total said it would finance its offshore gas project with Tehran in euros in order to avoid US sanctions. The deal to develop the 11th phase of the offshore South Pars field marks the first Western energy deal with Iran since the majority of international sanctions against Tehran were lifted in January 2016, although Iran-related transactions are barred from having any contact with the US financial system.
Amnesty reports killing of villagers in October – 10 November
Amnesty International called on Iraqi authorities to investigate reports that fighters wearing federal police uniforms executed six captured villagers, suspected of being Islamic State (IS) supporters, in the al-Shura and al-Qayyara sub-districts of Ninewa governorate, south of Mosul, in October. Federal police denied the accusations, which come amid a major offensive on the IS stronghold of Mosul. There have been international concerns that Shi’a militias may commit atrocities during the advance on Mosul and exacerbate sectarian divisions.
SDF forces advance 10 km toward Raqqa – 10 November
Officials from the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance said that they had advanced towards the Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Raqqa on two fronts despite heavy resistance. SDF forces progressed 10 km south from the towns of Ain Issa and Suluk. Initial reports did not confirm casualty numbers. The US-international coalition against IS has backed the SDF offensive with air strikes and special forces advisors.
Kurdish forces target Islamic State-held Bashiqa – 7 November
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces launched an assault on Islamic State-controlled Bashiqa, which lies 15 km of Mosul. Some 2,000 Kurdish forces backed by armoured vehicles and artillery entered the town, where officials estimate around 100 militants remain. The assault on Bashiqa is part of a wider offensive to clear Islamic State from Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province.
Two suicide bombings kill 21 in Tikrit area – 6 November
Two suicide bomb attacks targeting civilians in the Tikrit area left at least 21 dead, according to police. One suicide bombing involved an ambulance packed with explosives which targeted traffic at the southern entrance to the city in the morning rush hour, killing 13. The second attack killed eight people when a car bomb detonated at a park for Shi’a pilgrims near al-Askari mosque, 50 km south of Tikrit city. Security forces have imposed a curfew on the area, saying there was intelligence pointing to further attacks. No group has claimed responsibility.
Special forces seize parts of eastern Mosul – 4 November
Iraqi special forces recaptured six districts of eastern Mosul from Islamic State (IS) militants, extending gains made over recent days. Elite soldiers took the Malayeen, Samah, Khadra, Karkukli, Quds and Karama districts and reportedly inflicted heavy losses on militants. On 1 November, Iraqi forces entered Mosul for the first time since the city fell to IS in June 2014.
Soldiers shoot assailant in West Bank – 9 November
The Israeli army said that a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier with a screwdriver before being shot and wounded at a checkpoint near Huwwara, south of Nablus. Since October 2015, repeated attacks have left 238 Palestinians, 36 Israelis, two Americans and four other foreign nationals dead.
Forces hit Syrian army positions after Golan Heights incident – 9 November
Israeli military confirmed that it had hit Syrian army position in the northern Golan Heights after a rocket from Syria hit part of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The rocket was thought to have been a result of errant fire, although an Israeli military statement said it would not tolerate any attempts to breach the “sovereignty of the state of Israel”. The incident did not cause any injuries or damage.
Islamic State members planned attacks on Israeli football team – 8 November
Reports indicated that four Islamic State members arrested on 5 November were planning to attack the Israeli football team that is in the country a 2018 World Cup qualifier match. Albanian security forces acted after receiving the intelligence from Mossad, and the Israeli team has been relocated for security purposes. Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau advised fans against travelling to the match, which now will likely take place in a different stadium.
Gunmen steal USD 2.83 mn from banks near Gharyan – 10 November
Local media said that unidentified gunmen stole a USD 2.83 mn cash allocation to the Jomhouriya Bank branches in Gharyan, Asabiya, al-Shaqiqa, and the Islamic Bank in Gharyan while it was travelling from Zintan to Gharyan in the town of al-Ghanayma. Security forces began an investigation into the robbery. The Jomhouiya Bank branches and Islamic Bank branch in Gharyan closed to the public on the same day to denounce a deterioration of security and robberies of bank allocations.
Es Sider terminal to resume operation in days – 10 November
Officials from the National Oil Company (NOC) said that the Es Sider oil terminal would resume operations within days following the completion of remaining maintenance work. Officials said that the port was preparing to export 1.5 mn barrels. The NOC said that the output of Libyan oil fields had reached 660,000 barrels per day. Libya oil export has been hampered by violence between militias and fighting over control of key oil infrastructure, which has forced some fields to temporarily halt production.
Haftar-linked forces clash with Islamist militants in Benghazi – 8 November
Libyan National Army (LNA) forces affiliated with renegade General Khalifa Haftar clashed with Islamist militants in Benghazi’s Sabri and Suq al-Hout districts. LNA forces used both air and ground attacks to target militants’ positions, killing a commander in Sabri according to an LNA source.
Three foreign hostages freed – 6 November
Two Italians and a Canadian citizen who were kidnapped and held hostage in Libya have been freed and returned safely to Italy. Italy’s foreign ministry reported the three were “liberated” in collaboration with Libyan authorities, without providing further details. They were kidnapped on 19 September in Ghat by a group of armed men who blocked their vehicle. All three were reported to be technicians for Italian company Conicos, which is doing construction work at an airport in Libya.
Around 2,000 protest in Rabat over death of fish seller – 7 November
Local media reported that around 2,000 people protested outside parliament in Rabat to denounce officials and call for justice following the death of a fish vendor in al-Hoceima on 28 October. There were no reports of violence during the protest. Most reports claim the vendor was crushed after he attempted to retrieve discarded fish confiscated from him by police in a waste truck. The death has triggered the largest protests since demonstrations in 2011, with the unrest largely aimed at denouncing corruption and police abuse.
Rocket attacks wound 14 in Asir region – 10 November
According to Saudi civil defence, rockets fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen hit the Dhahran al-Janoub province, Asir region, wounding 14 civilians, including one Bangladeshi national, and damaging three houses. Houthi rocket attacks have killed and injured tens of people in southern Saudi Arabia since the start of Saudi-led coalition air strikes against the group in March 2015.
Russian aircraft carrier prepares to strike Aleppo – 9 November
Russia’s Ministry of Defence states that the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, is ready to strike targets on the outskirts of Aleppo. The carrier, stationed in eastern Mediterranean, is accompanied by a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser and two destroyers. The Russian Ministry of Defence claimed that the targets will not include residential areas.
Islamic State fighters clash with SDF in Raqqa assault – 7 November
Reuters reported Islamic State militants had used five car bombs against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in clashes near the town of Ain Issa, 50 km from Raqqa. The SDF, a US-backed coalition comprising mostly Kurdish forces, launched an offensive to retake Raqqa from IS the previous day, but conflict monitors said that no major progress had yet occurred despite the fighting.
US-backed forces to begin siege of IS “capital” Raqqa – 6 November
The US-backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab forces is set to being a siege of Raqqa, the “capital” of Islamic State (IS) in Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces said they will be aided by US air strikes and have warned civilians to leave areas with a high IS presence ahead of bombing campaigns. The assault comes as Iraqi government forces make ground in the siege of Mosul, IS’s main stronghold in Iraq.
Security forces kill suspected militant in Kasserine governorate – 9 November
Security forces killed a suspected militant during an operation in Jebel Salloum, Kesserine governorate, seizing a submachine gun, ammunition and explosive belts. Local media identified the man as Telel Saidi, a suspected leader of Jund al-Khilafa, allegedly involved in an attack in Sidi Ali Ben Aoun in June 2015. Security forces frequently clash with militants in mountainous areas of the governorate.
Islamic State claims killing of soldier in Kasserine region – 6 November
In a statement posted on social media by the Amaq Agency, the Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for killing a soldier near Mount Mghilla in the Kasserine governorate on 5 November. The group does not frequently claim attacks in Tunisia. However in 2015, the Islamic State group claimed three major attacks in Sousse and Tunis, killing 59 tourists and 12 members of the presidential guard.
United Arab Emirates
Police arrest 10, seize cannabis in al-Faqa – 8 November
Officials said that police arrested ten Pakistani nationals at a farm in al-Faqa, on the border between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and seized more than 1,000 cannabis plants and 7,615 kg of cannabis. The operation followed a tip off. Arrests of suspected drug smugglers are common in Dubai airport, a major transport hub, but seizures of locally produced narcotics are rare.
Government forces claim to kill 30 AQAP militants near Mukalla – 9 November
Officials said that soldiers loyal to President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi killed at least 30 suspected al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants during a raid, backed by the Saudi-led coalition forces, on a farm west of Mukalla. Four soldiers also died during the operations. In April 2015, AQAP militants took control of Mukalla, before withdrawing amid an advance by loyalist forces a year later.
WHO says death toll from conflict exceeds 7,000 – 7 November
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the 20-month conflict between Iran-backed Shi’a Houthi rebels allied with forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and southern forces under internationally recognised President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi supported by a Saudi-led international coalition has left more than 7,000 people dead and more than 36,800 injured as of 25 October. International organisations have warned of deteriorating infrastructure, spreading disease and increasing malnutrition rates in the country.
Houthis release US national – 6 November
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Houthi rebels released a US national, Wallead Yusuf Pitts Luqman, who had been working as an English teacher. Luqman had been held since April 2015. As with previous hostage releases, Oman assisted with negotiations over the release. Houthi rebels took a number of Westerners hostage after they overran the capital, Sana’a, in September 2014, many of whom have since been released with Omani assistance.
Fighting kills 20 in Hajjah, Shabwa provinces – 6 November
Officials said that clashes between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government left 20 people dead across Yemen. Among those killed was loyalist General Yehia al-Khayati following fighting in Midi, Hajjah province, a town near the border with Saudi Arabia. Officials said that rebels attacked government positions in the Usailan area, Shabwa province, killing five soldiers. The clashes come amid a visit to Sana’a by the UN envoy for Yemen to discuss a peace plan rejected by recognised President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.