This Week in Middle Eastern Conflict… June 17th-23rd, 2011

Hello, hope all is well!

Sorry, several of the This Week in Conflict reports are a little late this week, as I have been without power or Internet since Tuesday, one of the side-effects of living in a conflict zone. As such, stories are only updated until Tuesday evening. I will try to keep to a consistent posting schedule, as much as my access to the Internet allows me.




This Week in Conflict is now being divided up!

Here is the new schedule:

This Week in the World of Conflict – posted on Mondays

This Week in African Conflict- posted on Tuesdays

This Week in Asian Conflict – posted on Wednesdays (includes Oceania and Australia)

This Week in Conflict in the Americas – posted on Thursdays

This Week in Middle Eastern Conflict – posted on Fridays

This Week in European Conflict – posted on Saturdays

Please submit any reports or stories of conflict around the world to or write in the comments below. Here’s a summary of what happened this week in the Middle East:

  • Bahrain announced on Saturday that it was preparing to lift a ban on the country’s second largest opposition party, ahead of a national dialogue in an effort to ease the political crisis. The group, Waad, was shut down in April amid a crackdown by security forces on pro-democracy protests. On Monday, it was reported that 20 Bahraini doctors on trial for taking part in anti-government protests were tortured into making false confessions as they came back into the courtroom. The doctors are accused of taking over the country’s biggest hospital to use as a base to try and overthrow the regime, but many suspect their real crime is speaking out to the international media when the government began a violent suppression of protesters at the end of March.
  • On Saturday, armed men killed an army colonel in north-eastern Baghdad, Iraq; armed men killed a municipality employee in eastern Baghdad; armed men opened fire on a policeman and seriously wounded him in central Baghdad; gunmen shot dead a government-backed militia member in Kirkuk; and a roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi police patrol wounded three policemen and one civilian in Baquba. On Sunday, the Iraqi parliamentary speaker told reporters that the amount of Iraqi development fund money unaccounted for by the US is $18.7 billion, more than three times what has been previously reported.  On Monday, gunmen killed a local leader in his home near Baquba; gunmen kidnapped an ophthalmologist from his home in central Kirkuk; seven were wounded when a French embassy convoy was hit by a make-shift bomb in central Baghdad; gunmen shot dead a policeman at a checkpoint in southern Baghdad; a parked car bomb killed one civilian and wounded four others, including two policemen in northern Baghdad; two roadside bombs wounded two civilians in southern Baghdad; a roadside bomb wounded three, including a policeman in west-central Baghdad; a roadside bomb killed two boys and wounded three from the same family in east Mosul; and gunmen shot dead a man in front of his home in eastern Mosul. The Security Council is set to present a report on the situation of children and armed conflict in Iraq covering the period January 2008-December 2010. On Tuesday, two car bombs killed more than 20 and wounded more than 30 in central Iraq.
  • A rally in support of anti-government protesters in Syria triggered deadly sectarian clashes between rival gunmen in northern Lebanon on Friday. Between four and seven people are thought to be killed and at least 48 wounded.
  • A scheduled meeting aimed at reaching consensus over a new reconciliation government between Palestinian President Abbas and Hamas leader Meshaal was postponed. Fatah officials said continued disagreements meant the talks had been postponed indefinitely. Turkish pro-Palestinian activists announced on Friday that another aid flotilla will sail for Gaza this month, defying an Israeli blockade, but without the Mavi Marmara that suffered damage when it was stormed Israeli commandos a year ago. Israeli military officials warned that they would use force if necessary to prevent the boats from breaking the blockade. The Palestinian Rights Committee approved the agenda of its upcoming June 28-9 Brussels meeting on advancing the Middle East peace process on Monday, as well as on unemployment and access restriction in occupied territories.
  • Israel has authorized the construction of 1,200 new homes and 18 badly needed schools for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in what would be one of the largest housing projects in years.  On Tuesday, Israel’s defence minister said that despite the upheaval in the Arab world, Israel should push forward with negotiations that would restart long-stalled peace talks.
  • More than 100 influential religious clerics and leaders are calling for Presidential elections in Yemen. The petition demands the ouster of President Saleh and new elections within 60 days. On Monday, tens of thousands again took to the streets in the capital, demanding the President’s son, who commands the elite Presidential Guard, leave the country; while government forces reportedly killed one militant and wounded two others in clashes in Aden. On Tuesday, nearly 2,000 Ethiopian migrants trapped in Yemen were being evacuated according to the International Organization for Migration.
  • On Friday, security forces in Syria reportedly shot dead two demonstrators in the eastern provincial capital as they ripped posters of President al-Assad down off the walls of an army garage; while 16 others were shot dead as Syrian forces fired on protesters who rallied across the country, including 8 in Homs, one in Aleepo, and three  in Damascus. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that the Security Council extend the mandate of the UN forces monitoring the ceasefire between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights for six more months. On Saturday, Syrian troops reportedly backed by tanks and heavy machine gun fire swept into a village near the Turkish border, cutting food supplies for nearly 2,000 refugees. On Monday, President al-Assad gave a speech in which he promised to hold a national dialogue, but blamed unrest on a foreign conspiracy carried out by saboteurs and extremists. Protesters took to the streets in response, denouncing the speech they said did not meet popular demands; Turkish President Gul said that the speech was “not enough”, adding that Assad should transform the country into a multi-party system; while Russia emphasized its opposition to the UN resolution condemning the Syrian crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and urged the opposition to sit down with the government for talks on reform. On Tuesday, Assad issued a new Presidential pardon for prisoners, as tens of thousands reportedly took to the street to support him and clashed with opponents in three cities, resulting in the death of seven people by security forces. The UN refugee agency reportedly found the north-western town of Jisr al-Shugour and surrounding villages to be virtually empty of inhabitants during a brief visit to the area.

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