Last week in the Middle East, overall political violence levels decreased in Yemen during the last full week before the end of the UN-mediated truce extension, which ran until 2 August, before a further two-month extension was announced. In Syria, the regime's military intelligence clashed with local militias in As Sweida province. In Iraq, hundreds of rioters stormed the Iraqi parliament during demonstrations against the nomination of Mohammed Shia al Sudani for prime minister. In Lebanon, inter-clan armed clashes increased in areas of economic marginalization, while riots and protests over food and power shortages were also reported amid the growing economic crisis. In Palestine, two Palestinian militants affiliated with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade were killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces, while two Palestinian civilians were killed in violent events in the West Bank. In Turkey, women's groups continued protests against the higher court's decision to formalize the government's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.
In Yemen, violence levels decreased last week, driven by decreases in conflict between Houthi forces and forces affiliated with the Internationally Recognized Government (IRG) in Hodeidah, Marib, Sadah, and Taizz governorates (see ACLED's Yemen Truce Monitor for more on truce violations). Despite the decrease in violence, Houthi shelling killed one child and injured 10 others in Taizz city, as the military advisor of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen was visiting the city to prepare for the next meeting of the Military Coordination Committee (Al Masdar, 23 July 2022). The advisor then traveled to Sanaa to meet the Houthi-affiliated representatives of the committee and to continue discussions on de-escalation (Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, 28 July 2022).
In Amran governorate, episodes of tribal violence were reported last week, amid an apparent rise in tribal violence in several areas of the country in recent months. Some sources claim that Houthi forces are behind a number of these incidents (Al Masdar, 23 July 2022). Houthi forces also kidnapped followers of a Zaydi preacher critical of the Houthis. The increase of such events in recent weeks has resulted in a shift from Amran being considered a place of 'low risk' to a place of 'growing risk' by ACLED's Volatility and Risk Predictability Index. While violence in Amran has not been common, it has become increasingly volatile.
In Shabwah, tensions between IRG forces affiliated with the Islah party and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) from the week prior carried into last week, as unidentified gunmen targeted the Islah party's local headquarters with a grenade. The perpetrators of clashes the week prior were also arrested by governorate authorities last week (Al Masdar, 24 July 2022). In neighboring Hadramawt, the factionally unaligned governor dismissed his Islah-aligned deputy for the Hadramawt valley, in a decision that was annulled by Chairman of the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) Rashad Al Alimi (Mareb Press, 28 July). This comes amid a partial cabinet reshuffle last week, which notably saw the appointment of a new defense minister (Yemen News Agency, 28 July 2022; Twitter @BashaReport, 28 July 2022).
In Syria, Rijal al Karama and other local militias clashed with regime military intelligence in As Sweida province in response to the arrest of six local men in Shahba city. The clashes left 10 military intelligence personnel and seven Rijal al Karama fighters dead, while the bodies of six other military intelligence members were also found in As Sweida city.
Elsewhere, Turkish and rebel shelling and drone attacks on Syrian Democratic Forces (QSD) and People's Protection Units (YPG)-controlled areas more than tripled last week following several weeks of decline. Shelling and drone strikes resulted in the deaths of at least eight QSD and Asayish members and two civilians. Meanwhile, armed clashes and shelling between regime forces and rebel and Islamist factions in the frontline areas of Hama, Aleppo, Idleb, and Lattakia provinces continued at a similar pace as last week. This violence contributed to the 74% increase in violence in Syria in the past week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED's Conflict Change Map, which first warned of increased violence to come in the country in the past month.
In Iraq, activists demonstrated across Iraq last week against the nomination of Al Sudani for Prime Minister of Iraq by the pro-Iran Coordination Framework Committee. On 27 July, hundreds of supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr and other political activists stormed the Iraqi parliament, demanding early elections and denouncing the nomination of Al Sudani (The Guardian, 28 July 2022). Iraqi police clashed with rioters, leaving 15 rioters and two police injured. Last week also saw a significant increase in labor demonstrations throughout Iraq, notably in Maysan province where rioters, demanding jobs in the oil sector, clashed with police. This violence contributed to the 200% increase in violence in Maysan last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker, which first warned of increased violence to come in Maysan in the past month.
Elsewhere, overall levels of fighting between Turkish forces and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) remained stable last week compared to the week prior. Notably, though, unknown militants conducted a rocket strike targeting the Turkish consulate in Mosul city on 26 July, resulting in material damage. Fighting between Turkish forces and the PKK contributed to the 121% increase in violence in Duhok in the past month relative to the past year flagged by ACLED's Subnational Threat Tracker, which first warned of increased violence to come in Duhok in the past month.
In Lebanon, inter-clan armed clashes left at least one person dead and dozens injured in the Akkar and Baalbek-Hermel governorates last week. Lebanon's economic crisis contributes to worsening security in some regions due to the hollowing out of the security apparatus following various budgetary cuts. In regions such as Akkar, which has been systematically marginalized and neglected by the state in favor of central governorates such as Beirut and Mount Lebanon, the security vacuum is even more pronounced (COAR, 14 January 2022). This violence contributed to the 107% increase in violence in Lebanon last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED's Conflict Change Map, which first warned of increased violence to come in the country in the past month. Meanwhile, demonstrations over bread and power shortages were also reported across all governorates.
In Palestine, two Palestinian militants affiliated with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade were killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces, while two Palestinian civilians were killed in violent events last week. On 24 July, Israeli counter-terrorism forces (Yamam) shot and killed two Palestinian gunmen affiliated with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and injured 10 Palestinians during an armed clash in Nablus city. On 26 July, Israeli soldiers shot a 59-year-old Palestinian man with an intellectual disability near Huwwarah military checkpoint, who later died from his injuries. Israeli soldiers claim he did not heed their calls to stop (Times of Israel, 30 July 2022). In Ramallah and Al Bireh district, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian rioter in an anti-settlement demonstration in Al Mughayyir village. This violence contributed to the 36% increase in violence in Palestine last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED's Conflict Change Map, which first warned of increased violence to come in the country in the past month.
In Turkey, women's groups continued to protest last week over Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. The protests follow the higher court's ruling on 19 July in favor of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's March 2021 decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. Turkey's withdrawal from the convention marks the first time that a country has decided to withdraw from a Council of Europe treaty it has ratified, and experts say that resistance to the treaty comes down to a rise in anti-Western and anti-LGBT+ sentiment in the Turkish government (DW, 20 July 2022).