Trends in political violence and demonstrations stayed largely static this week, outside of some interesting activity in Bahrain, Iraq, and Turkey. Syria and Yemen also saw continuations of existing trends, with Syria in particular seeing ongoing offensives by government and Turkish forces respectively coming close to completion.

Israel and Lebanon had a relatively low number of events this week, while Iran likewise had a lower number of protests than recent weeks. Meanwhile, the number of events of riots and protests stayed stable in Palestine.

In contrast, a high level of protest activity for the country continued this week in Bahrain. Last week there were a number of protests on the anniversary of the crackdown on the 2011 anti-government protests, while this week protests were held in a number of villages to mark the first anniversary of the death of a protester who was killed in a sit-in protest last year in Diraz village.

In Iraq, Islamic State (IS) militants target village chiefs (or mukhtars), and are ambushing people in fake checkpoints. The most notable of these was the kidnapping of ten off-duty federal police.

In Syria, Turkish military forces and their allies captured Afrin city, while also coming into direct conflict with pro-Syrian government forces as they advanced towards the government-held towns of Nabul and Zahraa. Syrian government forces also made significant strides towards capturing Eastern Ghouta, with all areas except Duma now under their control. Events of political violence decreased later in the week following an agreement which allowed for the large-scale evacuation of both combatants and civilians from the area.

Yemen likewise saw pro-Hadi government forces advance in Jawf and Lahij provinces. An increase in missile attacks by Houthis was also reported this week, with a surface-to-air missile hitting a Saudi-led coalition jet, and several others being shot down over the border and western coastal areas. A US airstrike this week also killed at least 10 Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants.

Regional Overview – Middle East
26 March 2018
Matt Batten-Carew
Matt Batten-Carew
Global Research Manager
Matthew Batten-Carew is the Global Research Manager of ACLED. He led the Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey projects, and was formerly a Middle East Research Manager, as well as an Associate Manager with ACLED's Asia project. Mr. Batten-Carew holds an M.A. in Geopolitics & Grand Strategy and a second M.A. in Eurasian Studies, with research focusing on regional governance and conflict management. He has worked for the Canadian government's Departments of Global Affairs and National Defence, and for consulting firms in policy development and political risk analysis. He is fluent in English and French, and is based in Ottawa, Canada.
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