Washington Report on Middle East Affars: March in Numbers
“Entrenchment” is the word that best describes the Middle East in March.
In Egypt, coup leader Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi “hung up” his military fatigues to announce his candidacy for president. Meanwhile, those opposed to Sisi and the coup continued to face the bloody consequences, as an Egyptian court sentenced 529 Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers to death.
In Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued his authoritarian trend by blocking access to Twitter, where his opponents had been releasing damning audio recordings that apparently revealed corruption in his inner circle. Despite the harsh reaction to this move, Erdogan’s AKP party emerged victorious in the country’s March 30 municipal elections.
In Syria, the killing continued and little progress was made on a diplomatic solution to the civil war. The flow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon also continued, causing significant logistical and social problems for the fragile nation.
Israel continued to show its defiance throughout the month by advancing plans to construct settlements in the West Bank. New statistics also show that the country is killing Palestinians at an alarming rate.
Below is a summary of March in numbers:
529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced to death by a judge in Minya, Egypt for the death of a single police officer. This is the largest capital punishment conviction in the history of modern Egypt.
3,143 Egyptians are estimated to have been killed since the July 3 military coup, according to a new Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report. The report also noted that 18,977 Egyptians have been arrested for political reasons during the same time period.
150,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
1 million Syrians are now residing in Lebanon, increasing the country’s total population by more than 20 percent.
50 percent of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons have been removed, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-U.N. Joint Mission.
10 million Twitter users in Turkey had their access to the social media site blocked by the government after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused individuals of using the site to leak “fake” audio recordings exposing corruption in his inner circle.
1,009 Iraqi civilians were killed by violence, according to Iraq Body Count.
4 drone strikes were carried out by the U.S. in Yemen, killing an estimated 9 people.
10 two-seat crop dusting propeller planes armed with laser-guided missiles may be provided to the Yemeni government by the U.S., according to a leaked Central Command memorandum. The initiative would allow Yemeni pilots to continue the ongoing drone war with less overt U.S. involvement.
1 member of the House of Representatives—Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)—voted against the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act. 410 representatives supported the legislation, which allows for Israelis to travel to the U.S. without visas and calls for Israel to receive advanced military equipment.
2,269 new homes will be built on Palestinian land in the West Bank, after a Defense Ministry committee decided to push forward the project even though it threatens peace talks.
19 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF this year, according to B’Tselem. This means one Palestinian is killed every 4.2 days.
For the 66th time, the IDF destroyed the Bedouin village of al-Araqib. Israel considers ancestral Bedouin villages in the Negev to be illegal.
2 percent of Israeli prime time news stories are about the country’s Arab population, even though Arabs make up 20 percent of the country’s population, according to the I’lam Media Research Center.
3 countries—Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain—withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar due to deepening differences over regional policy.
77-year-old Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his intention to run for a fourth consecutive term. The election will be held on April 17.