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05 February 2013

Comprehensive Information on Complex Crisis

Iraq Mali Syria IED/Demining 1 2 3 4

This document provides complex coverage of global events from 29 January – 04 February 2013 with hyper-links 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.

The Civil-Military Fusion Centre (CFC) is an information and knowledge management organisation focused on improving civil-military interaction, facilitating information sharing and enhancing situational awareness through the CimicWeb portal and our Weekly and monthly publications. CFC products are based upon and link to open-source information from a wide variety of organisations, research centres and media outlets. However, the CFC does not endorse and cannot necessarily guarantee the accuracy or objectivity of these sources. CFC publications are independently produced by Desk Officers and do not reflect NATO policies or positions of any other organsiation. The CFC is part of NATO Allied Command Operations.


Linda Lavender


Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki stated that a Syrian-style revolt against the government of Iraq “will not happen” despite mounting street demonstrations by minority Sunnis against his Shi’ite-led government, according to Associated Press (AP). While Maliki asserts that some of the protesters are al Qaeda members seeking to exploit the internal unrest within Iraq, he also acknowledged his willingness to engage with protesters to address grievances. Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report last week that called Maliki’s actions “draconian measures against opposition politicians, detainees, demonstrators and journalists, effectively squeezing the space for independent civil society and political freedoms in Iraq”. Voice of America (VOA) reports that hackers attacked the Prime Minister’s official website posting a picture of two women weeping expressing their support for the Iraqis fighting against “Shi’ite oppression”. Reuters reports that the group, called Team Kuwait Hackers, also compared Maliki to Syria’s President Bashar al Assad. Tens of thousands of Sunni protesters blocked a major highway in western Iraq on 01 February while the militant Islamic State of Iraq called upon Sunnis to rise up against the Shi’ite-led government, according to AP. The largest demonstrations occurred in Fallujah and Ramadi while others took place in Samarra and Baghdad. According to sources, the day’s rallies “were among the largest since the protests began” in mid-December 2012. Experts predict that Maliki’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to solving a myriad of issues within the country will likely prolong Iraq’s “perennial crisis”, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). On 01 February, AFP reports that the January death toll in Iraq of 246 people was the highest since September 2012. At least 35 people were killed as suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Kirkuk police headquarters on 03 February, according to United Press International (UPI). The ethnically

For further information contact: Complex Coverage Team Leader Linda Lavender linda.lavender@cimicweb.org

mixed city is a continued point of contention between the Kurdish North and the Arab South of Iraq. Later that day, four men sitting in a caravan adjacent to a neighbourhood electricity generator in Kirkuk were killed by gunmen, reports AFP. On 04 February, Iraqi authorities say a suicide bomber targeting Sunni Sahwa militia forces killed at least nineteen people and wounded forty others in the town of Taji, north of Baghdad, reports VOA. BBC reports that the Sahwa forces have been fighting al Qaeda in Iraq and comprise Sunni tribal members who sided with the United States against al Qaeda in 2006 and as a result, have often been targetet by al Qaedalinked militants. The ongoing dispute between Baghdad and Kurdistan over the oil-rich territories escalated on 30 January when Kurdish leadership warned BP against assisting Baghdad in upgrading an oil field located within the disputed territory, according to UPI. While BP is working with Baghdad in Iraq’s south to develop the Rumaila super-field, it is now reported that the oil giant is close to signing an agreement with the central government to upgrade declining Kirkuk oil fields in the North which lie in the disputed territory. Kirkuk’s oil reserves comprise approximately one-third of Iraq’s proven 143.1 billion barrels of crude. Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil is feeling the internal tug-of-war over oil created by Baghdad and Kurdistan, reports to Reuters. Prime Minister Maliki hastily convened a meeting with Exxon’s chief executive in an effort to “woo back the US major” which seems intent on pulling out of the USD 50 billion West Qurna 1 oilfield in the South, which is under Baghdad’s control, in favour of oil exploration in Kurdistan. As the first major oil company to risk venturing north, Exxon afforded the Kurds a victory in their turf war with the central government over how to exploit Iraq’s oil. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reports that bishops of the Iraq-based Source: Spiegel Chaldean Catholic Church chose Louis Sako, the archbishop of Kirkuk, as their new patriarch. Louis Sako, now titled “Partriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans” stated he would work to stop Christians from leaving the country. Prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq, there were more than one million Christian residents; now, they number approximately 450,000. Finally, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, a fire in a student dormitory at the Technical Institute in Sulaimaniyah killed at least three people and injured 56 others on 04 February, according to UPI.


Linda Lavender


After stopping in Timbuktu, French President Francois Hollande visited the Malian capital of Bamako where he held formal talks with interim president Dioncounda Traore on 02 February, reports al Jazeera. Later, in an address to the people of Mali, Hollande stated, “I’m saying to you the fight has not yet ended, terrorist groups are weakened, they have suffered heavy losses, but have not disappeared. France will remain with you as long as it is necessary”. The United Kingdom announced on 03 February that it would devote more resources to provide training and logistics assistance to the Nigerian armed forces to help stem terrorism in West Africa, according to Vanguard. Chief of Defence Staff General David Richards stated, “in view of the war against terrorism worldwide, Mali was the immediate imperative. It is important we resolve this threat of Mali especially for the sake of the African continent and the well-being of Nigeria”; who is also working to combat their own Islamic insurgency of Boko Haram. Reuters and AP report that the United States and United Kingdom have increased their efforts to counter increasing militancy in Africa. The US is planning to establish a regional base of drones in the region to better monitor al Qaeda movements while the UK offered up to 240 military trainers for Mali’s fight against northern rebels. The drone base will likely be located in Niger. International donors pledged USD 453 million to fund military operations in Mali at a donor conference held in Addis Ababa on 29 January, falling short of the funding estimated to properly retrain the Mali military, reports The Hindu. Both the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) estimate a requirement for an annual budget of USD 460 million, while USD 360 billion will be necessary to equip and train the Malian army. Also, Canada announced on 29 January that will increase its aid to Mali by USD 13 million in efforts to improve food security, emergency care and humanitarian aid for refugees, according to the Toronto Sun. On 03 February, Reuters reports that French aircraft pounded Islamist rebel camps in the far north of Mali that were used by al Qaedalinked rebel groups. Tuareg rebels in northern Mali said they had captured two senior Islamist insurgents near the Algerian border while fleeing French air strikes, reports Reuters. National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) rebels reported that one of their patrols seized Mohamed Moussa Ag Mohamed, an Islamist leader who imposed Sharia-law in the northern town of Timbuktu and Oumeini Ould Baba Akhmed, believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of a French hostage by the al Qaeda splinter group Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). The Tuareg separatist group recently communicated that it was willing to 05 February 2013


assist French troops hunting-down Islamists and offered to hold peace talks with the Bamako government. Mali’s president also suggested talks with Tuareg rebels on 31 January in a bid for national reconciliation, according to AFP. However, President Traore made talks with Tuaregs conditional upon the separatist group waiving all territorial claims to northern Mali. Additionally, the southern government rejected the idea of meeting with al Qaeda-linked groups such as Ansar Dine and the Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA). The UNSC will begin discussing shortly the need for a peacekeeping force for Mali comprising between 3,000 and 5,000 troops, according to Reuters. Also, French and Malian troops that enjoyed initial success in their three-week old intervention in northern Mali may find a resilient enemy capable of fighting back with a concealed arsenal of surprising firepower, reports Reuters. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for an investigation into allegations of abuses and executions by Malian troops in the recent French-led military intervention in northern Mali, according to Australian Associated Press (AAP). Additionally HRW will review reports of the recruitment of child soldiers and rape by rebels, as well as reprisal killings and disappearances at the hands of Malian soldiers. Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated, “to the extent that refugee numbers are a barometer of the situation [in northern Mali], UNHCR notes that refugees are still fleeing to neighbouring countries”. While many civilians are eager to return home, reports of unrest and revenge attacks against certain groups are slowing refugees’ return. Additionally, reports of poor conditions, destroyed homes, shortages of food, fuel and electricity as well as the disruption of basic services in the North have many opting a “wait and see” attitude. AP reports that as French and Malian forces oust al Qaeda-linked militants from the northern towns of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, ethnic tensions exacerbated by months of political upheaval are putting some of Mali’s minorities in danger of reprisal attacks.


Linda Lavender


Israeli warplanes bombed a convoy near Syria’s border with Lebanon on 30 January, in an effort to thwart weapons transfers to Hezbollah, reports Reuters. A Western diplomat confirmed that Israel’s intended target was a truck loaded with weapons headed to Lebanon, while Syrian state television accused Israel of bombing a military research center at Jamraya. Many saw the airstrike as Israel’s warning to the Assad government over its strategy of weapons transfers to enemies of the Israeli state. Later, US officials shared that the Israeli target was a convoy of sophisticated Russian SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, reports Associated Press (AP). While the main target for Israel’s airstrike last week was anti-aircraft weapons, it seems that the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, the country’s main research center for work on biological and chemical weapons, also suffered moderate damage in the attack, according to the New York Times (NYT). Also, a Western intelligence official told Time that at least one to two additional targets were hit the same night but offered no further details. The intelligence official also suggested that the US military was poised to carry out similar airstrikes around Aleppo if rebels threaten to take sites associated with weapons of mass destruction. Outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton disclosed in a New York Times interview that “the opposition [in Syria] is increasingly being represented by al Qaeda extremist elements”, adding “the opposition was getting messages from the ungoverned areas in Pakistan where some of the Qaeda leadership was believed to be hiding”, a development she deemed deeply concerning, according to the Washington Post. UPI reports that Israel is considering establishing a buffer zone within Syria to protect itself from rebels. The proposed buffer zone would reach ten miles into Syria and would be modeled after the Lebanese security zone which is jointly policed by the Lebanese and Israeli army. Responding to the attack, Iran’s National Security Council head, Saeed Jalili, stated that Israel “will regret its latest aggression” on Syrian and called upon the entire Muslim world to defend the Syrian people. Turkish Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israel’s action calling the strike an unacceptable violation of international law, reports al Jazeera. Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani condemned the Israeli airstrike and warned Arabs and Muslims throughout the world of “Israel’s intentions and any possible future aggression against Syria”, reports Daily Star. President Assad accused Israel of attempting to destabilise Syria by attacking a military research base outside Damascus last week, and said his country was able to confront “current threats ... and aggression”, according to al Jazeera. Russian and Iranian foreign ministers met the Syrian opposition leader for the first time on 02 February in a rare sign of diplomatic progress, according to The Guardian. After the meetings, Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz al Khatib urged Syrian President Bashar al Assad on 04 February to respond to his offer for dialogue, suggesting that it was the opposition’s attempt to end the bloodshed, reports Reuters. Alkhatib, a moderate Islamist preacher recently announced he was prepared to talk to Assad’s leadership. Although he set several preconditions, the move for dialogue went against the rebel’s position of no negotiations with the regime, and dismayed many in opposition ranks who insist on Assad’s departure as a precondition for negotiation. Alkhatib met with senior Russian, US and Iranian officials and signaled to Assad’s government that it “must take a clear stand (on dialogue) and we [the opposition] say we will extend our hand for the interest of people and to help the regime leave peacefully”.

05 February 2013


Jordan’s King Abdullah told Reuters that the “challenge we [Jordanians] have is that the longer this conflict goes on the more the country [Syria] will implode”. Currently Jordan hosts more than 330,000 Syrian refugees, approximately five per cent of its own population, mostly dispersed in Jordanian towns and cities. Meanwhile, on 01 February, three Lebanese Army soldiers were killed in a shootout as they tried to arrest a resident of Aarsel village that has become a hub of refugees and where Syrian rebels often cross the border, according to New York Times (NYT). The border region remains tense and, along with the increasingly flow of refugees into neighbouring countries, there is concern that the entire region could become unstable. Syrian rebels announced they had captured a strategic neighbourhood near Aleppo’s international airport on 02 February, reports Associated Press (AP). Government and rebel forces have been locked in a deadly stalemate in Aleppo, the announce means that a key road that the regime has used to transport supplies to soldiers in the city has been severed. International donors pledged on 30 January over USD 1.5 billion in aid to Syria, according to the UN. On 01 February, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that on, they successfully delivered winter emergency relief this week to thousands of internally displaced people in northern Syria. The UNHCR says it has delivered 15,000 blankets and 3,000 tents to the Azzas area in northwestern Syria, where thousands of victims of Syria’s civil war are living in makeshift camps. Also, UNHCR airlifted the relief items from its warehouse in Copenhagen to a civilian airport near Latakia on the Syrian coast. From there, it was transported by road in an eight-truck convoy to an area between the city of Aleppo and the Syrian-Turkish border. Lastly, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that at least 65 bodies were found by the Quweiq river in Aleppo, apparently executed with a single bullet to the head, according to al Jazeera. Rebel groups in Syria accused government forces of carrying out the massacre, according to UPI.

IED & Demining

Linda Lavender


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 30 January – 05 February 2013). GLOBAL NEWS Bulgaria: Lebanese Hezbollah militants, have been linked to the Burgas bus bombing in July 2012 that killed five Israelis, according to the BBC. India: Passengers of the Howrah-Guwahatidown Garibrath Express safely escaped on 03 February when a powerful bomb exploded on the railway tracks minutes after it passed Goabari in lower Assam's Kokrajhar district, according to the HinduTimes. Nigeria: Gunmen on motorcycles bombed a police station and as many as three banks in Kaduna State in Nigeria on 30 January, according to Voice of America. The attacks come two days after a man claiming to be a leader of Islamist militants known as Boko Haram announced a unilateral truce. For more IED & Demining news click here or click on the map above.

The CFC is pleased to announce the launch of its 2013 Kenya Elections webpage providing detailed coverage of the upcoming Kenyan elections.

IRAQ Complex Coverage
05 February 2013

MALI Complex Coverage

SYRIA Complex Coverage

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