Last week in the Middle East, political violence decreased in Yemen during the last week of the UN-mediated truce’s second extension, which ended on 2 October.1The truce officially expired on 2 October after diplomatic efforts failed to secure a new extension. This development will be covered in more detail in next week’s Regional Overview. The UN-mediated truce was announced on 1 April for an initial two-month period from 2 April to 2 June. It was then renewed for two-month extensions twice until 2 October. In Syria, Russian forces targeted Islamic State (IS) militants in the desert of Ar Raqqa. In Iraq, supporters of the Sadrist Movement clashed with security forces in Baghdad. In Iran, demonstrations triggered by the death of a Kurdish woman in police custody continued for a second consecutive week. In Turkey, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants detonated explosives during an attack against a police facility in Mersin province, killing themselves and a police officer. In Palestine, five Palestinian militants were killed during clashes with Israeli forces, while another Palestinian was killed as he attempted to ram an Israeli police car.
In Yemen, political violence decreased last week compared to the week prior, mostly as a result of a drop in violence in Abyan governorate after two weeks of conflict between UAE-backed Security Belt forces and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants. Last week was the first week in September in which ACLED did not record any violence involving AQAP in southern Yemen. While this may either indicate a tactical pause by both parties or the successful ouster of AQAP militants from the governorate, there have been reports of militants returning to the Wadi Umaran region in Abyan (Lahj Net, 25 September 2022).
Elsewhere in Yemen, violence between Houthi and anti-Houthi forces continued for the second consecutive week at the border between Lahij and Al Bayda governorates. Houthi shelling killed at least two Giants Brigade fighters in Al Had district of Lahij, while anti-Houthi shelling and drone strikes targeted Houthi forces in Az Zahir district in Al Bayda. These trends contribute to the 155% increase in violent events in Al Bayda last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker, which had warned of increased violence in the governorate the week prior.
At the political level, UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg engaged in shuttle diplomacy last week, traveling to Riyadh, Muscat, and Sanaa to discuss his proposal to extend the truce beyond 2 October with both Houthi and Internationally Recognized Government representatives (Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, 27 September 2022; Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, 30 September 2022). Despite these efforts, the truce has since expired.
In Syria, Russian forces resumed airstrikes against IS positions in the desert of Ar Raqqa province last week, killing five IS fighters. Elsewhere, Russian airstrikes against rebel-held areas in Idleb province increased significantly last week. Likewise, violence against civilians rose last week following a significant decline the week prior. Separately, Turkish and rebel shelling of Syrian Democratic Forces- and YPG-controlled areas saw a notable decline last week compared to the week prior.
In Iraq, clashes erupted again last week between Sadrist Movement supporters and security forces near parliament in Baghdad’s Green Zone amid the ongoing failure of political efforts to form a government. After several weeks of relative calm, parliament’s decision to appoint Muhsin Al Mandalawi from the Shiite Coordination Framework as deputy speaker following the resignation of Sadrist Hakim Al Zamili sparked rioting by Sadrist supporters (Al Jazeera, 28 September 2022). In addition, armed clashes between unknown militants and violence against civilians in Baghdad continued. These trends contribute to the 144% increase in weekly violent events in Baghdad in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Threat Tracker, which also warned of increased violence in Baghdad during the preceding four weeks.
Meanwhile, Iranian forces carried out shelling and air and drone strikes against the positions of various Kurdish militias in Erbil province last week, killing at least 13 fighters. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed that the strikes were in response to the militias’ support for ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Iran (Rudaw, 28 September 2022).
Nationwide demonstrations in Iran triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the Guidance Patrol continued last week for a second consecutive week. Police continued to intervene in demonstrations, despite an overall decrease in violent police suppression, clashes, acts of vandalism, and reported fatalities compared to the week prior. Outbreaks of violence during these demonstrations have contributed to the 356% increase in weekly violent events in Iran in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks. Demonstrations denouncing Amini’s death and expressing solidarity with Iranian protesters also continued in Turkey.
Also in Turkey, two PKK members opened fire at Turkish police officers guarding a police facility in Mezitli town in Mersin province last week. Following a gunfight in which both attackers were injured, they detonated explosives, killing themselves and one police officer. This marks the second attack in September by PKK or PKK-affiliated militants on Turkish government targets outside Kurdish-majority areas, with the first taking place two weeks ago in Istanbul’s Sile district.
Last week in Palestine, five armed Palestinian militants were killed by Israeli forces during raids in the West Bank. On 28 September, Israeli military forces clashed with militants during a raid on the Jenin refugee camp. Four Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades gunmen were killed in the clash, one of which worked for the Palestinian Authority’s security services. The raid targeted relatives of a Palestinian militant who carried out a deadly attack against Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv last April (Ma’an News Agency, 28 September 2022), who the Israeli government claimed were planning to carry out an attack against Israeli targets (Times of Israel, 28 September 2022). Israeli forces also killed a member of the Lion’s Den armed group after he shot at them during a separate raid in Nablus city. Meanwhile, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man after he attempted to ram an Israeli police vehicle with his car near Havat Gilad settlement. This violence contributed to the 82% increase in violent events in Palestine last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks.
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED. Use the date filters to view data for the one-week period covered by this Regional Overview.