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29 January 2013
Comprehensive Information on Complex Crisis
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Iraq Mali Syria Special Report: Port of Tartus IED/Demining 1 2 3 4 6
This document provides complex coverage of global events from 22– 28 January 2013 with hyperlinks to source material highlighted in blue and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to events in the region, contact the members of the Complex Coverage Team or visit our website at www.cimicweb.org.
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Members of the Iraqi Parliament from Sunni, Kurdish and Shi’ite parties voted for a law intended to block Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki from serving a third term as prime minister, according to New York Times (NYT). The parliamentary manoeuver was the latest threat to Maliki’s position, but it appears unlikely that the law, which requires approval by the Iraqi President, will ever go into effect. The law, limiting the posts of prime minister, parliament speaker and president to two four-year terms, was approved as Maliki struggled to end Sunni protests against his leadership. Parliamentary elections are due to be held in early 2014. The month of December 2012 saw at least 208 Iraqis killed in attacks throughout the country. An increase in violence in recent weeks has coincided with three weeks of demonstrations in Sunni provinces where protesters demanding that the Shi’ite led Maliki government end the systematic marginalisation of the Sunni community in Iraq, reports CNN. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) announced its support of the anti-government protests and the rights of Sunnis in Iraq, while at the same time claiming responsibility for the assassination last week of Sunni MP Efan al Essawi, a former leader of a local Awakening council, reports NYT. AQI’s statement regarding the killing claimed that Essawi was a “criminal infidel” and was killed “just like we killed a previous sheik of the shamed Awakening council”. Political tensions have steadily risen in Iraq since late December and demonstrations continue to sweep the country, according to Reuters. On 25 January, four protesters and two Iraqi soldiers were killed in Fallujah when violence broke out after troops arrested three protesters and other troops attempted to block a major highway in the region. Among the thousands of protesters in Fallujah, some raised the Saddam-era three star flag and the black flag of AQI. For security reasons, Baghdad imposed a curfew on the city, according to NYT. Later on 25 January, unidentified gunmen killed two soldiers at an army
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checkpoint south of Fallujah. Prime Minister Maliki called up “the wise people of Anbar 1 to move toward turning off the fire of a sectarian strife that neither Anbar nor Iraq will benefit from”. Meanwhile, Jaber al Jaberi, a member of the Iraqiya political bloc, maintained that it was the Iraqi Army that provoked the confrontation; the Iraqiya party has subsequently stopped all negotiations with the Maliki government. BBC reports that Sunni leaders in Anbar have threatened retaliatory attacks against the Iraqi army, and tribal leaders gave Baghdad one week to arrest those responsible for opening fire on the protesters. Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, who is largely credited with rallying Sunni tribal leaders to turn against AQI in 2006, warned that “the people of Anbar have another choice if their demand is not met”, referring to the potential influence he could wield as leader of a 160,000-member clan, according to CNN. On 26 January, two more Iraqi soldiers were killed by snipers south of Fallujah and four soldiers were kidnapped from a nearby military base near the city. Additional violence was reported this past week. Three blasts across Baghdad killed seventeen people on 22 January, according to Reuters. The most deadly incident took place in Taji, north of Baghdad, where a suicide bomb detonated near an Iraqi army base. In the predominately Shi’ite neighbourhood of Shula in northwest Baghdad, a parked car bomb exploded in a crowded market. Finally, in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, five people were killed at an Iraqi army checkpoint. NYT reports on the same day, a failed hostage rescue by police west of Samarra resulted in the death of the hostage and his two kidnappers. It was unclear whether the hostage, a cousin of a Member of Parliament (MP), was killed by the kidnappers or police during the rescue operation. On 23 January, a suicide bomber, disguised as a mourner at a funeral, detonated his explosives in a Shi’ite mosque in the city of Tuz Khurmato killing 22 people, reports Reuters. Talks between the Turkish government and the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK 2) hit a snag this week when four leading members of the main pro-Kurdish political movement were denied a visit to imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocala, after Kurdish leaders publicly criticised recent Turkish military airstrikes against PKK bases in Iraq, according to Voice of America (VOA). Turkish Prime Minister Recap Erdogan defended the airstrikes while attempting to draw a distinction between the Kurdish people and PKK militants saying, “[w]e have opened our hearts to our Kurdish brothers; we are sending bombs to terrorists; our fight against terror will continue today and tomorrow”. Erdogan has faced criticism from Turkish nationalists for his peace initiative with the Kurds. Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that Kurdish organisations in France and Iraq claim that Omer Guney, the alleged killer of three female activists and PKK members in Paris, was a double agent working for Turkey. Erdogan, speaking to Parliament on 24 January, dismissed the allegations as false and stated that Turkey was in no way involved in the activists’ deaths.
International assistance for French forces battling militant Islamists in northern Mali gained momentum on 22 January after the United States and Italy pledged support for the operation, according to CNN. US C-17 aircraft taking off from southern France carried French troops and supplies to Mali. Italy’s parliament voted to send 15 to 24 military instructors to work alongside the European Union forces that will be training Malian troops. US airlifts are expected to continue for several days. On 26 January, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta pledged additional support to Mali operations by conducting aerial refuelling missions, reports CNN. Leaders from several other countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, have already pledged troops and logistical support. Nigeria is ready to deploy soldiers to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) force aiming to retake northern Mali. Approximately 800 African troops from Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Togo have arrived in Mali, according to US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland. Meanwhile, on 25 January, Reuters reports that Burkinabe troops, the first from West African countries, met with French and Malian troops in Markala. AFP reports that on 26 January, West African defence chiefs meeting in Cote d’Ivore agreed to increase their pledged troop levels to 5,700 from the previous 4,500. Despite the swift successes of French and Malian troops in retaking northern Mali from jihadists, analysts suggest the real challenge for troops will be holding on to the territory against a “nebulous and cunning foe”, according to The Guardian. On 25 January, French warplanes destroyed two rebel bases, in Ansongo and Seyno, both near the city of Gao. In addition, a leader from the Tuareg insurgent group, National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh, said his group offered to help French and Malian troops clear the region of the al Qaeda rebels, according to Reuters. Assaleh indicated the MNLA was preparing to attack the withdrawing al Qaeda-allied Islamist forces and its leaders, whom he said were hiding in the Tidmane and Tigharghar mountains in Kidal region. French and Malian troops have held a strategic bridge and airport in the northern city of Gao, according to The Guardian. The city has been under control of the Islamist group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) since April 2012, according to AFP. The French Defence Ministry reported that Malian reinforcements and troops from Chad and Niger had flown in to secure Gao and the surrounding region. The northern advance pressed towards the ancient city of Timbuktu as French and
The city of Fallujah is located in Anbar province. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States, the European Union and NATO.
29 January 2013
African land forces made their approach into northern Mali through neighbouring Niger. On 27 January, AFP reports that French air raids in Kidal destroyed the home of the leader of the local al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine group. Reuters reports that on the same day, French and Malian troops arrived in Timbuktu, more than 300 km (190 miles) west of Gao, and were working to restore government control over the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A Malian military source said the French and Malian troops had met no resistance up to the gates of Timbuktu and seized control of the airport. Government forces were working to flush out Islamist rebel fighters still hiding in the city. Even as significant advance were made in retaking portions of the north, French and Malian leadership expressed concern that the rebels will not give up without resisting, reports Reuters. There is concern that extremists could carry on a protracted, hit and run guerrilla war against the Malian government. As al Qaeda militants fled Timbuktu, rebels set fire to the city’s library containing priceless manuscripts, some dating back to the thirteenth century, according to The Guardian. A senior negotiator from the extremist group Ansar Dine, Alghabass Ag Intallah, which helped seize the north of Mali earlier in 2012, has announced that he has split from the group and is now representing a rebel faction that wants talks with the Malian govern and rejects Ansar Dine’s alliance with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), reports Reuters. It was not clear the size of the newly created splinter group called the Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA), but the announcement by Intallah stated that the MIA would focus its efforts on seeking autonomy for the northern homeland of the desert Tuaregs. Also, al Jazeera reports that the MIA, “rejected all forms of extremism and terrorism” and was committed to fighting against the extremists, adding it sought a “peaceful solution to the Mali crisis”. An elected official in the city of Kidal told the AP that the split was “a long time coming”, stating that Ansar Dine enlisted a large number of fighters and local authorities for economic and political reasons, not ideological ones. The Telegraph reports that Malian soldiers have also joined the militants over recent months because they pay well compared to government wages. One Malian soldier stated that he was earning USD 4,100 a year, plus USD 1,200 for every day spent fighting; double the pay rate for Malian government employees. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the general assembly that “political, security and humanitarian efforts” are needed to meet the challenges faced in Mali, adding that “working with African and international partners, we must do our part to help fully restore Mali’s constitutional order and territorial integrity”, according to CNN. UN News Service reports that as the situation unfolds in Mali, the risk for infiltration and destabilisation are real in some of the countries that border Mali. Said Djinnit, head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), suggested to the international community that it must remain mindful of the limitations faced by Mali’s neighbours and provide support in the areas of border-control and counter-terrorism for the region. Eventually “it will also be necessary to pursue a broad reconciliation process that strengthens the foundations for national cohesion in Mali”, added Djinnit. According to the United Nations (UN), the situation in Mali and the Sahel, combined with other cross-cutting threats in the region, including drug trafficking and piracy, has the potential to undermine security in West Africa, while the root causes of instability in the region are yet to be fully addressed. Peter Maurer, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated that “Mali is one of the most profound humanitarian crises which we are dealing with today”, reports AFP. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that 9,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries since the launch of the French-led offensive in northern Mali. Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for UNHCR suggested that the unrest in Mali could soon displace up to 700,000 in the country and surrounding regions. The Norwegian Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre warned that the humanitarian crisis in Mali is worsening, according to CNN. With borders between Algeria and northern Mali closed, those fleeing the unrest are forced to head into the desert where there is scarce food and water and little humanitarian assistance.
Israel is increasingly concerned that Syrian chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Islamist militants and is taking military and diplomatic steps to mitigate that possibility, reports AFP. Two batteries of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system have been redeployed to northern Israel in case military action needs to be taken against targets in neighbouring Syria or Lebanon. Israel has reason to believe that Hezbollah forces in Syria, fighting for the Assad regime, could have an opportunity to seize chemical weapons if Assad falls. AP reports that Iran made its strongest warning to date that it could intervene militarily to assist the Assad regime. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Ali Akbar Velayati stated that “Syria plays a very key role in supporting or, God forbid, destabilizing the resistance front3” and “[f]or this same reason, an attack on Syria is considered an attack on Iran and Iran’s allies”. Turkey announced on 26 January that the first of six Patriot missile batteries to be deployed along the Turkish-Syrian border were declared operational and placed under NATO command. NATO officials reiterated that the Patriot deployment is for defensive purposes only. Meanwhile, in recent media appearances, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have strongly criticised the West for pursuing what they regard as “naïve and incoherent Middle East policies”, according to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM). Citing the Western-backing of anti-dictator rebellions in Libya and Syria, Putin suggested that Western meddling only fuelled the flames of extreme Islamist insurrection, also referencing the current crisis in Mali and the terrorist attack in Algeria.
The resistance front, from the Iranian perspective, is a group of Middle Eastern powers opposed to US and Israeli influence in the region.
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Syrian rebels continue to battle for control of the Mannagh airbase; “the last piece of government-controlled territory” between Turkey and Aleppo, according to CNN. Increasing numbers of Lebanese Sunnis have joined with Syrian rebel forces in their efforts to topple the Assad regime, according to the Washington Post. The growing role of Lebanese fighters among the ranks of Sunni religious extremists in Syria has raised concerns among Lebanese security officials that Lebanon could experience a renewal of sectarian violence. “A strong relationship exists between al Nusra Front Command in Syria and Sunni extremists in Tripoli”, said a senior Lebanese official. Meanwhile, tensions have been rising for months in the northern town of Saraqib, where civilian anti-government activists have complained of harassment by jihadist fighters, according to the NYT. Similar complaints have echoed across Syria; In the eastern suburbs of Damascus, civil activists have reported that fighting among various jihadist battalions frustrates the activists who say they wish that rebels would be more cautious about who they accept help from. Karam, a civilian activist in the suburb of East Ghouta stated, “I’m wondering how the rebels are accepting foreign fighters among them”. “Rebels always repeat, ‘We just want to finish up this war’. It makes me crazy. These people [jihadists] will slaughter us [secular Syrians] with knives [in the end]”. Over the past two weeks, Syrian activists have accused shabiha militias loyal to the Assad government of carrying out massacres that have killed over 200 Sunni Muslims in Homs, reports Reuters. Mohammed Mroueh, a member of the Higher Leadership Council of the Syrian Revolution, stated that, “the rebels are holding their ground but the shabiha are getting to the civilians”, suggesting that ethnic cleansing of Sunni is occurring in districts that were in the way of Alawite supply lines. According to a separate 26 January Reuters report, the Syrian army has stepped up an offensive on opposition Sunni Muslim strongholds in Homs, while approximately 15,000 Sunni civilians are trapped at the southern and western limits of the city. AP reports that Syria’s state-run news agency (SANA) says troops have raided an opposition stronghold near Damascus on 26 January, killing an unspecified number of rebels and uncovering tunnels used by them to move about and smuggle weapons. In Idlib, Syrian rebels freed more than 100 prison inmates as they battled against regime forces on 26 January, according to AFP. At least ten rebels were killed in clashes inside the prison and the opposition has not yet taken control of the prison from Assad forces. Reuters reported on 26 January that eight members of Syria’s military intelligence were killed in a twin car bomb planted by al Nusra Front on 24 January near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Human Rights Watch reports that Syrian rebels have burned and looted the religious sites of minorities, according to al Jazeera. The destruction of religious sites is adding to sectarian fears and promises that Syria will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not stop the practice. Syria’s high judicial council announced on 27 January that it would suspend prosecutions of opposition members in order to encourage their involvement in a national dialogue, reports AFP. Assad’s Interior Minister Mohammed al Shaar vowed to ease the return of Syrian opposition members living in exile so they could also participate in the national talks that Assad outlined in his 06 January address to the nation. Despite its lack of refugee camps, UNHCR reports an additional 8,000 Syrian refugees fleeing violence arrived in Lebanon in the past week. The UN agency reports that the total number of registered refugees in Lebanon stands at 155,000. Also, at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, UNHCR announced that more than 6,400 Syrian refugees had crossed into Jordan in one 24-hour period, in efforts to underscore the magnitude of the Syrian crisis, reports AFP. Valerie Amos, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) met with Syrian government officials on 27 January to discuss the current state of the conflict in the country, according to AP. Some areas of the country face shortages of food, cooking fuel, heating oil and gasoline. More than two million are displaced within the country. The Telegraph reports that some displaced Syrians are squatting in caves for shelter and safety. Humanitarian and developmental aid agencies in Syria say international sanctions against the country are impacting their operations as transferring money from Europe to Syria “is a disaster”, according to Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). Many aid organisations have resorted to wiring funds to Lebanon and then physically driving their operating funds into Syria. On 25 January, the UN announced it was preparing to send USD ten of million in US aid to help alleviate hunger in southern Syria. On 26 January, the United Kingdom pledged an additional USD 33 million to assist in the humanitarian efforts, reports AFP. The additional aid will buy lifesaving winter clothing and food, as well as medical supplies. UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) reported that approximately 525,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria are now suffering from the 22 month old conflict, according to Reuters. UNRWA Commission General Filippo Grandi indicated that while all civilians in Syria are impacted by the protracted conflict, the present situation of Palestinians in Syria is exceptional as they are now becoming “two-time refugees”. A series of violent incidents at the Lebanese Palestinian camp in Ain al Hilweh has officials concerned that the fighting in Syria could erupt inside Lebanon’s Palestinian camps, according to the Daily Star.
Special Report: The Syrian Port of Tartus
Humanitarian Crisis In its largest appeal ever, the United Nations (UN) requested USD 1.5 billion in December 2012 to help the millions of Syrians suffering from what it called a “dramatically deteriorating humanitarian situation”. Four million people in the country require urgent humanitarian aid, including an estimated two million displaced from their homes by sectarian violence. UN figures show the number 29 January 2013
of registered Syrian refugees has leapt from 500,000 to nearly 600,000 in the past month. Deliveries of food are delayed by insecurity, and ships must now use the Lebanese port of Beirut instead of the Syrian Port of Tartus. “There are really no more safe areas where people can flee”, stated the UN Regional Coordinator for Syria, adding “The magnitude of this humanitarian crisis is undisputable”. The World Food Program (WFP) used the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in the past however these efforts were being hampered by a “lack of capacity” as well as escalating violence between the government and rebels, stated WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin. As a result of the insecurity, the WFP has temporarily pulled its staff out of its offices in the Syrian cities of Homs, Aleppo, Tartus and Kurdish-run Qamishli. To add further complication, the lack of security has prevented WFP from delivering aid to Syria via the port of Tartus, a “key conduit”. However, on 16 January the WFP announced that the Syrian government would ease restrictions and allow WFP to expand its area of operations and work with 110 designated non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to distribute dire food assistance throughout the war-torn country. WFP has selected 44 NGOs of the 110 permitted to work as implementing partners and carry out food distribution, , thus enabling the WFP operation to feed upwards of one million people. At this time it is not known whether WFP and its 44 partners will be allowed to distribute food through the strategic Port of Tartus or whether the port will be restricted to Russian and Syrian military operations. Russia and its Vested Interest Russia has maintained its naval base at Tartus since 1971. The base serves as a naval supply and maintenance facility and a winter hub for its Black Sea fleet. At the end of the Cold War, Russia retained its leasing rights to the Syrian Port of Tartus by waiving nearly EUR 8 billion in Syrian debt to the Soviet Union. Since then, Russia has expanded its facilities to enable the docking of nuclear warships. The facility remains restricted to a small barracks (50 personnel onshore plus 190 accommodated on floating platforms), pier, fuel tanks and small support buildings. The Syrian Port of Tartus is the only Russian naval base in the Mediterranean and the only base existing outside of the Soviet Union; the Soviet-era naval base at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay and “a spy base in Lourdes in Cuba” were both closed in the early 2000s during President Vladimir Putin’s first term. The port plays an important role in the resupply and refuelling of Russian naval vessels, enabling an extended stay in the Mediterranean thus avoiding the long voyage back to the Black Sea Fleet’s home base from leased facilities in Ukraine.4 According to the Russian Navy, the naval base in Syria significantly boosts Russia’s operational capability in the region, as warships based from Tartus are capable of reaching the Red Sea through the Suez Canal and the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar in a matter of days, reports the Moscow-based RIA Novosti news agency. “Tartus is the only site where Russian ships can dock for refuelling and repairs and allow their crews to rest a little”, said Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems. “Strictly speaking, the Tartus station is not a naval base. We [Russia] only have a floating repair dock there. The port is not equipped to be a base, but potential changes are possible. If we maintain our presence there, modernization will be needed.” While Tartus is acknowledged as a “small and limited facility” lacking permanent repair capabilities, the base does enable Russia to conduct repair and replenishment since the Russian fleet, unlike the US Navy, is unable to resupply at sea. Ruslan Aliev, the head of information at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) in Moscow, likewise asserted that Tartus is not a definitive naval base; however, it does enable force protection of Russian naval capabilities into the Mediterranean, potentially influencing Europe and Middle East whilst giving more aggressive options through ‘gunboat diplomacy’. Tartus is also the port through which Russia provides its lucrative arms shipments to Syria and has recently become more significant as a “counter to NATO’s ballistic missile defence system, which includes the integration of naval vessels which Russia may hope to undermine through its own maritime capabilities in the Mediterranean”, according to Nordic Intel. Russian Naval Build-up On 20 January, the largest Russian war games since the Cold War commenced in what has been described as a flexing of military muscle and underlining Russian interests in Syria and the Port of Tartus. Task forces from Russia’s Black Sea, Northern and Baltic fleets, strategic bombers, tactical aircraft, air defence units, paratroopers and navy are taking part in the manoeuvres in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, according to the Russian defence ministry. Andrei Frolov, a naval expert at the Moscow military think-tank CAST, said the drill may be intended to remind the West of Russia’s links to Syria, where it has repeatedly argued against outside intervention. According to RIA Novosti, the exercise is in line with the Russian Armed Forces’ 2013 combat training plan and will aim to “practice the issues of establishing a multiservice grouping of forces (troops) outside Russia, planning its use and conducting joint actions as part of a united naval grouping based on a common plan”. Further, naval exercises are not uncommon, particularly in light of the latest
On April 28, 2010, The Ukrainian parliament ratified an agreement to extend Russia’s’ lease of Crimean base facilities to 2042 with an option for five more years, through 2047.
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Russian strategic plan which calls for a 2016 “replenishment of the combat strength of the Russian Navy with eighteen surface warships of various ranks and designation, thirty special-purpose and counter-subversion vessels and a plan to put six multi-purpose and strategic submarines into operation”, according to the Russian defence ministry. Michael Weiss, co-chair of the London-based foreign policy think tank Russian Studies Center believes that the presence of Russian navy ships in Syria is serving three distinct and different purposes: “to run weapons and material into Syria, take Russian nationals out of the country, and send a signal to the United States that it still backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad”. Furthermore, the military build-up may also serve as a reminder that for Russia “remaining empty-handed in the developments in Syria is Moscow’s red line”, iterated by a member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and Russia Expert Mehdi Sanayee. Many observers surmise that the Russian naval build-up and placement of three hundred marines on the Tartus base is simply a preparation to “set up a sterile zone around the port to protect its facilities and rescue some of the 30,000 Russian nationals believed to be in Syria”. On 24 January, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the situation in Syria was “causing utmost concern” but not enough to warrant a “mass evacuation of Russian citizens living there”. Although Russia did transport by air 77 of its citizens fleeing the violence to Moscow early 23 January, it did not signal the start of a broader evacuation. “Of course we have no interest in the Mediterranean region becoming even more destabilised, and the presence of our fleet there is undoubtedly a stabilising factor,” Lavrov said. Chemical Weapons According to Russia’s foreign minister, as of 23 December, Syria had consolidated its chemical weapons into one of two locations from its usual places scattered across the country, reports CNN. “As of right now... the [Syrian] government is doing all it can to safeguard those weapons5”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured Israel that “Syria chemical weapons stores will not get into the hands of any element outside the country, including Hezbollah”, according to the Lebanese newspaper A-Nahar. Fear that Syria could also use chemical weapons against its neighbours was cited by Turkey as one reason the country requested six Patriot missiles from NATO to be stationed on its border with Syria; the alliance approved the deployment. Furthermore, there is some speculation that the chemical weapons have been moved to Tartus, which is one of the country’s few Alawite majority enclaves. Jordan’s King Abdullah suggested in August that Assad may try to create a “mini-state” in the area should he lose control of Damascus6.
IED & Demining
The CFC publishes a weekly IED and Demining Events map. This global compilation identifies and links to articles pertaining to IED events as well as demining efforts. (Reporting period from 23 – 29 January 2013). GLOBAL NEWS Lebanon: A small bomb exploded in Beirut’s southern suburb of Hay al Selloum, wounding two people, reports Daily Star. Lebanese soldiers were deployed into the area after the bombing. Italy: A parcel bomb was delivered to the superintendent of Pagliarelli prison in Palermo, but did not detonate, according to United Press International (UPI). United States: A former Arizona State University professor was arrested at Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, according to Associated Press (AP). He was arrested after telling a police officer that his two backpacks contained explosives. For more IED & Demining news click here or click on the map above.
However recent reports have indicated that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has all the components to produce chemical weapons and have the knowledge to put them to use. The media linked the announcement to Major-General Adnan Sillu, a regime defector who formerly led the army’s chemical weapons training programme.
Alawites account for twelve per cent of Syria's population, or just under three million people, and yet have been in tight control of a Sunni-majority country, for more than 40 years.
29 January 2013