Unrest continued in Palestine and Israel last week, with both Israeli settlers and Palestinians clashing with police, while Israeli airstrikes on Gaza changed their focus to targeting groups flying incendiary kites over the border. In Turkey, attacks on Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members and offices also continued, brought on by the upcoming federal election on June 24. In Syria, Syrian Democratic Forces (QSD), backed by the Global Coalition Against Daesh, clashed with Islamic State (IS) fighters in several areas, making headway in the south with the recapturing of ten villages and strategic points. Meanwhile in the Dar’a and Quneitra governorates of Syria, tensions continue to remain high, with violence expected to continue should ongoing negotiations fail. Finally, in Yemen, anti-Houthi forces launched “Operation Golden Victory”, a coordinated attack on the areas directly south of Hudayda city.

In Turkey, attacks against HDP offices and members continued throughout the country, leading to severe injuries in at least two cases. The violence, typically attributed to nationalists, is thought to be at least partially supported by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the President himself. At a party conference on June 10, President Erdogan instructed AKP members to target HDP voters and to take control of polling booths as a means of limiting HDP chances in the June 24 election – however it is unclear whether these comments implied the use of violent means (Ahval, June 13, 2018).

In Israel and Palestine, clashes between rioters and security forces erupted in different areas last week. Several of these demonstrations occurred as a result of the demolition of the Netiv Ha’avot outpost in West Bank, which lead to a rare clash between settlers and Israeli police, followed by additional demonstrations throughout Israel. Also in West Bank, hundreds of locals demonstrated against recent Palestinian Authority (PA) sanctions on Gaza, which included the reduction of government salaries and the forced early retirement of PA employees in the region. The demonstrations were focused in the town of Ramallah over a few days, culminating in clashes with Palestinian police on June 13th following the PA ban on further demonstrations issued the day before (Al Jazeera, June 16, 2018).

Additionally, Israeli airstrikes continued to hit Gaza last week, though their focus has shifted to targeting groups near the border who are attaching incendiaries to kites. These makeshift bombs have led to the spreading of large fires on both sides of the border and have increased in frequency since early May 2018.

Meanwhile in Syria, Syrian Democratic Forces (QSD), backed by Global Coalition Against Daesh ground forces and airstrikes, continued clashing with Islamic State (IS) fighters in eastern Deir-ez-Zor as well as in southern Al-Hasakeh governorate. In the latter, QSD made significant advances, regaining control of more than ten villages and strategic points including Tal Shayr near the Iraqi border. Clashes also continued, without advances, between regime and allied forces against IS in eastern Deir-ez-Zor as well as in the deserts of Homs, and in As-Sweida governorate.

Tensions remain high in the southern governorates of Dar’a and Quneitra as regime forces remain poised to begin a wide-scale offensive on rebel-held areas if ongoing “reconciliation” negotiations should fail. Meanwhile, in rebel-held areas in the northwest, regime and allied forces continued to carry out heavy shelling in northern Hama and airstrikes on areas of Idleb as Hezbollah and allied militia forces clashed with Islamist factions around the rebel-besieged towns of Kafraya and Foah. Assassinations and remote targeting of rebel and Islamist faction fighters also continued across Idleb governorate, primarily targeting Hayat Tahrir al Sham fighters.

In Yemen, the UAE-backed southern “Giants” brigade, Tihama communal militias, Southern Resistance militias, and National Resistance forces launched a coordinated attack on the areas directly south of the port city of Hudayda in an offensive labeled “Operation Golden Victory”. Fighting throughout last week centered on the airport and Houthi-controlled areas in Ad Durayhimi district of Hudayda governorate, and UAE backed forces have reportedly managed to secure the southern part of the international airport. Possibly due to this regional focus, instances of battles involving anti-Houthi and Al-Houthi forces throughout the rest of the country appeared lower than average during this period.

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Regional Overview – Middle East
18 June 2018
Tom Hart
Tom Hart
Middle East Research Manager
Tom Hart is a Middle East Research Manager with the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), and a part-time brewer and genealogist. He received his BA in International History from Carleton University in Ottawa, where he focused on colonial relationships, intercultural interaction, and geocultural perspectives. Mr. Hart is currently based out of Ottawa, Canada, and is fluent in English and French.
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