The Regional Impact of the US Embassy Move

On May 14, the United States (US) government officially moved its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem (Haaretz, May 14, 2018). This action triggered demonstrations across Palestine. The largest of these were in the Gaza Strip where weekly demonstrations against the move had been occurring since March 30 (read more…

Regional Overview – Middle East 28 May 2018

Violence between state forces and militant groups increased last week in both Turkey and Iraq, some of which can be attributed to the month of Ramadan. In Iran, wide-scale economic protests continued, mostly led by labour groups. In Syria, Islamic State (IS) militants evacuated from the areas south of Damascus, and regime forces prepared for…

The Effect on Political Violence of the Turkish Constitutional Referendum

On April 16 of last year, the people of Turkey voted in favor of a constitutional referendum approving a series of amendments which significantly expanded the powers of the presidency, held by Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The referendum resulted in an extremely narrow victory at 51% for and 49% against,…

Alleged Chemical Incidents in Syria

Chemical incidents have perhaps been the only consistent factor shaping the United States’ position on the civil war in Syria before and after Trump’s election. A chemical attack on Eastern Ghouta in August 2013 prompted an imminent attack, led by the Obama administration. This was staved off by the Assad regime in an exchange for…

Regional Overview – Middle East 14 May 2018

Both Lebanon and Iraq held elections last week, with the number of riots and protests as well as election-related violence rising, respectively, in each case. Demonstrations in Iran were focused on “Teacher’s Week” while a smaller subset of demonstrations were focused on the United States’ pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. Demonstrations were held…

Operation Olive Branch: Patterns of Violence and Future Turkish Offensives

As Turkish and allied Syrian faction violence has decreased after their March 2018 capture of Syria’s Afrin border region from Kurdish forces, questions remain about Turkey’s plans for further operations in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria. While the Afrin operation, known as “Operation Olive Branch,” was not Turkey’s first military foray into Syrian territory,[1] the…

Regional Overview – Middle East 7 May 2018

Events relating to elections and labour concerns stood out in a number of countries this past week, which included International Workers’ Day on May 1. In Iraq, Islamic State (IS) militants continued to engage in election-related violence. Iran’s protests were also focused primarily on labour and economic issues this past week. A number of notable…

Turkey’s Air War in Iraq

Since the beginning of 2017, Turkish military forces have been responsible for the vast majority of the remote violence reported in the Iraqi governorates bordering Turkey. This is largely due to their ongoing conflict with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which maintains bases in northern Iraq (Iraqi News, December 25, 2017). These remote violence events…

Regional Overview – Middle East 30 April 2018

The number of political violence events recorded in Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine dropped this week, while the number of events in Bahrain and Turkey rose considerably. Meanwhile Syria is seeing a renewed focus by various forces on fighting the Islamic State, while fighting remains roughly static in Yemen. In Iraq, a discernible lull in…