CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
Our monthly conflict tracker warns of six conflict risk alerts in October.
CrisisWatch spotlighted deteriorations in fourteen countries in September.
We also highlighted one improvement.
Aside from the scores of conflict situations we usually assess, we tracked notable developments in September in Angola, Benin, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Togo.
Our CrisisWatch Digests offer a monthly one-page snapshot of conflict-related country trends in a clear, accessible format, using a map of the region to pinpoint developments.
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Govt formation remained stalled ahead of October expiry of President Aoun’s term and violent street clashes erupted amid deepening economic crisis.
Govt formation efforts made no progress. PM Mikati and President Aoun failed to reach breakthrough; new govt may remain unattainable during Aoun’s term, which ends 31 Oct. Parliament 29 Sept held first round of presidential elections, failed to elect new president; uncertainty persists that new president will be appointed before Aoun’s term ends. Parliament 26 Sept passed 2022 budget, which fell short of International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s standards for bailout package; IMF delegation 19 Sept visited capital Beirut to “accelerate” reform process, concluded progress was “very slow”.
Insecurity flared, notably in north Lebanon. Central Bank 12 Sept lifted last remaining fuel subsidies, fuelling further price hikes for gasoline and diesel. Lebanese lira weakened to all-time lows, trading at 39,000 to $1 on 19 Sept. In various regions – notably Tripoli, North and Bekaa Valley – street clashes over robberies and family issues led to deaths and injuries. Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi 13 Sept announced govt would impose “sustainable” security plan for North Lebanon; 16 Sept reiterated need for state intervention after bank depositors held up seven banks across country within three days to gain access to their own funds trapped inside illiquid banks. Transport minister 23 Sept confirmed that days earlier boat carrying Lebanese en route to Europe sank off Syrian coast, killing over 100.
Govt and Israel inched closer to maritime deal, notwithstanding risk of escalation. U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein 9 Sept met separately with President Aoun, PM Mikati and House Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss Israel’s response to proposal in which govt renounces claims to Karish gas field – some 90km off coast of Lebanon and Israel – in return for exclusive rights to unexplored Qana prospect; Hochstein said that “very good progress has been made” but noted “work to be done.” After drilling company Energean 8 Sept announced it is ready to resume work “within weeks”, Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah 17 Sept reiterated previous warnings that Israel’s exploitation of Karish field before border negotiations conclude is “red line”.
Tensions ran high over results of August general elections.
Constitutional Court endorsed victory of ruling party in August elections. After ruling party People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) of incumbent President Lourenço late Aug won 51% of vote in general election, main opposition party National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) 1 Sept filed legal complaint against results to Constitutional Court, citing large differences between official vote count and party’s parallel tally. Constitutional Court 5 Sept rejected request.
Opposition supporters took to streets despite violence and arrests. Meanwhile, human rights organisation Friends of Angola around 2 Sept said it had received “vast” number of reports of unlawful detention of opposition supporters since elections. Suspected MPLA supporters 2 Sept attacked UNITA local headquarters near Benguela city, injuring ten and torching several vehicles. Security forces 15 Sept patrolled streets in major cities, including capital Luanda, for Lourenco’s inauguration. Thousands of anti-govt protesters 24 Sept attended demonstrations in Luanda, alleging electoral fraud and calling for release of political prisoners. Opposition leader Adalberto Costa Júnior same day promised “year of protests”.
Islamic State (ISIS) claimed first attacks in country, and govt enlisted Rwanda in counter-insurgency strategy.
Violence persisted in northern regions, ISIS claimed responsibility for July attacks. In Atakora department, unidentified armed group 3 Sept clashed with soldiers near military base in Matéri commune, leaving unknown casualties. In Alibori department, string of attacks, possibly by al-Qaeda affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, reported in Sept in Malanville and Karimama communes. Notably, raid on Goungoun police customs post 14 Sept left two dead; one also missing after overnight attack on construction site in Loumbou-Loumbou locality 21-22 Sept. Meanwhile, ISIS 15 Sept claimed its Sahel affiliate was responsible for 1-2 July attacks in Alibori department, which left six soldiers dead; claim confirms both al-Qaeda and ISIS now active in Benin.
Authorities strengthened security cooperation with Rwanda. Paris-based website Africa Intelligence 9 Sept confirmed Benin and Rwanda had entered final phase of negotiations for security cooperation deal that would include deployment from October of roughly 350 Rwandan soldiers to northern Benin. Benin same day confirmed negotiations were under way for Rwanda to provide logistical support and expertise, but denied troops deployment to northern Benin.
Political instability reached new heights as second coup this year ousted transitional President Lt. Col. Damiba amid rampant violence countrywide.
Interim president toppled after less than nine months in power. Heavy gunfire 30 Sept erupted in capital Ouagadougou, notably near military camp allegedly hosting transitional president, Lt. Col. Damiba, as troops blocked several roads. Junior military officers — led by Capt. Ibrahim Traoré — hours later seized control of state television, announced they had toppled Damiba, whom they accused of failing to quell escalating violence across country since taking power in Jan. New military leaders same day closed borders, imposed night curfew and dissolved transitional govt. West African regional bloc ECOWAS immediately condemned coup, called for return to constitutional order. Earlier in month, Damiba reorganised security forces amid mounting popular discontent at deteriorating socio-economic and security situation. Notably, Damiba 12 Sept sacked Defence Minister Gen. Barthelemy Simpore and assumed role himself; also announced redeploying military units from areas largely spared by violence to flashpoints in Centre-North and Boucle du Mouhoun regions.
Violence remained pervasive in north, centre and east. In Sahel region’s Soum province, jihadists targeted convoys carrying supplies to Djibo town, which has been under blockade by al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) since Feb: at least 35 civilians killed 5 Sept in explosive device attack on Bourzanga-Djibo axis; at least 11 soldiers killed and 50 civilians missing after 26 Sept attack near Gaskindé locality. Meanwhile in Oudalan province, army airstrikes 14 Sept reportedly killed three women and seven children in Timbolo village in recently created “military interest zones”. In Centre-North region, clash between vigilantes (VDPs) and presumed JNIM 2 Sept killed one militant and one vigilante in Namentenga province, while explosive device 6 Sept killed two gendarmes in Ouanobian commune, Sanmatenga province. In East region, suspected JNIM militants 1 Sept killed five VDPs in Taagou area (Gourma province). In Centre-East region, joint operation by VDPs, govt and Togolese forces 4 Sept killed 16 suspected JNIM militants near Sandiaba commune (Koulpélogo province). JNIM progressed in Boucle du Mouhoun region (west), notably taking control of Solenzo town (Banwa province) 5 Sept.
Political tensions ran high as President Ndayishimiye purged cabinet after alleging coup plot, and opposition faced obstruction during local elections.
President appointed new PM after alleging coup plot. President Ndayishimiye 2 Sept warned of coup plot during meeting of govt officials in political capital Gitega, vowed to “defeat” anyone threatening him. In following days, Ndayishimiye launched high-level political purge. PM Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, close ally to former President Nkurunziza, and five ministers sacked 7-8 Sept; Interior Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca immediately appointed as new PM and confirmed by parliament; Ndayishimiye 7 Sept also replaced chief of presidential cabinet, Gen. Gabriel Nizigama, with Col. Aloys Sindayihebura, and sacked or redeployed 54 police provincial commissioners.
Several opposition candidates denied running in local elections. Authorities in three municipalities of Ngozi province 7 Sept reportedly disallowed over dozen members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) to run in 12 Sept local elections; on election day, local authorities allegedly removed four CNL candidates from ballot in Bugenyuzi commune, Karusi province. Local observers in Makamba province 12 Sept reported several irregularities favouring ruling party and obstructing participation of opposition, retired military members and ethnic Tutsis.
Ruling party youth wing accused of politically motivated violent attacks. Local media 7 Sept reported that ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure 2 Sept attempted to kill inhabitant of Busiga commune in Ngozi province for refusing to join ruling CNDD-FDD party. Suspected Imbonerakure 25 Sept beat into coma University of Burundi student in Bujumbura city for alleged affiliation with CNL. Meanwhile, as part of nationwide training campaign, group of Imbonerakure 4-6 Sept received military training in Cibitoke province; military official said they will join the fight against RED-Tabara rebels in DR Congo’s South Kivu province. Special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, Fortuné Gaétan Zongo, mid-Sept said country’s human rights record had not significantly improved since 2015.
As govt and Anglophone separatists prepared for show of force, anniversary of self-proclaimed Ambazonia Republic on 1 Oct could pave way for escalation of conflict.
Authorities and Anglophone separatists stepped up military preparations. Media reports early Sept revealed President Biya late Aug ordered deployment of special forces against Anglophone separatists in North West and South West regions. Swiss mediator Günther Bächler around 14 Sept announced end, at Biya’s request, of Swiss-led dialogue initiative launched in 2019 between Yaoundé and Anglophone groups. One separatist faction in following days threatened attacks in Francophone regions, called on Anglophones to leave these areas to avert potential reprisals. Meanwhile, violence between govt forces and separatists continued. Notably in North West, govt forces 8 Sept killed at least three rebels in Awing town (Mezam division), and 10-11 Sept killed six others in Bui division. Separatists 8 Sept killed four soldiers in Bamenda city, and 25 Sept attacked gendarmerie in Awing, reportedly killing three soldiers. Rebels also 25 Sept abducted five hospital staff in Kumbo city, after govt forces 22 Sept arrested three medical staff accused of treating separatists. Military 28 Sept acknowledged soldiers 19 Sept used indiscriminate force on civilians in Andek area (Momo division), leaving two women dead.
Anglophone separatists imposed lockdown targeting schools. Some separatist groups 6-16 Sept imposed lockdown in North West and South West in bid to delay start of school year until at least 1 Oct anniversary of self-proclaimed Ambazonia Republic. Separatists resorted to violence to enforce lockdown. In North West, separatists 8 Sept kidnapped dozens of students in Bamenda city and Fundong town. In South West, separatists 6 Sept opened fire on bus near Ekona town on Kumba-Buea axis, killing six; next day fired shots on outskirts of Buea city, interrupting traffic. Suspected separatists 16 Sept also targeted Christian community, setting fire to church and kidnapping at least eight people including five priests near Mamfe town (South West).
Far North saw lull in jihadist violence amid heavy rainfall and flooding. Military in Sept repelled rare jihadist attacks on their positions; militants 24 Sept however killed policeman near Kolofata town (Mayo-Sava division).
Violence continued in several regions, Constitutional Court blocked President Touadéra’s plans to amend constitution, and authorities sought to avert budgetary crisis.
Insecurity persisted in Ouaka and Haute-Kotto prefectures, worsened in neighbouring Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture. In Ouaka, Russian paramilitary forces 4 Sept allegedly killed eight miners near Ndassima gold mine amid ban on gold trade in area since Russians started industrial exploitation of Ndassima in May 2021. In Haute-Kotto, rebel Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) early Sept started regrouping around mining sites, leading to string of attacks; notably, CPC attack on Kpassoro village 13 Sept caused 500 people to flee to prefecture’s capital Bria. Despite late-Aug deployment of over 300 govt soldiers to deter rebel offensive in Bamingui-Bangoran, CPC 2 Sept attacked armed forces in Akroussoulback village, death toll unknown. Meanwhile, security forces continued arbitrary arrests, including of 40 people 12 Sept and of 90 others 22 Sept during search operations in capital Bangui’s third district.
Touadéra’s constitutional change bid suffered setback. Presidential decree 12 Sept appointed members of committee responsible for drafting new constitution, which could allow Touadéra to run for third term. Constitutional Court 23 Sept blocked process following appeal by civil society G-16 coalition, ruling 12 Sept decree as well as 26 Aug decree establishing constitutional drafting committee “unconstitutional”. Pressure on court mounted in lead-up to decision, with hundreds of govt supporters 8-9 Sept demonstrating in front of courthouse, calling for court members’ resignation and issuing death threats against its president, Daniele Darlan.
Govt took steps to address budgetary crisis. After late Aug voting to reduce state budget by 14%, National Assembly 1 Sept further compressed budget to compensate for suspension of international aid (to prevent it feeding Russian operations in country) and global economic downturn. Meanwhile, PM Félix Moloua 6 Sept created inter-ministerial committee to investigate irregularities in salary payments to state personnel, which were uncovered in Aug by audit of state personnel register.
National dialogue moved to propose extension of transition as political repression increased; deadly herder-farmer violence continued in south.
National dialogue continued amid tensions. Internal commission of national dialogue 28 Sept submitted proposal to extend transition to elections by two years, keep head of military junta as head of state and allow him to run for president at ballot box. Earlier in month, lack of inclusivity cast shadow on national dialogue’s work. Catholic Church 3 Sept suspended participation in national dialogue, citing lack of “mutual listening”. Group of elders and religious leaders negotiating with some boycotting forces (including opposition and civil society platform Wakit Tama) to pave way for their participation 14 Sept called for suspension of dialogue to consider several recommendations, including installation of new presidium and revision of participation quotas; authorities however took no heed of proposal. Meanwhile, FM Cherif Mahamat Zene 19 Sept resigned, citing interference and encroachment on his mandate from presidential office.
Authorities clamped down on opposition. In apparent bid to prevent anti-dialogue rally scheduled for 3 Sept, security forces 1 Sept detained 84 members of Les Transformateurs opposition party over accusations of “disturbing public order” and holding “unauthorised demonstrations” in capital N’Djamena; next day surrounded party headquarters in city, confining four members inside, including party president, Succès Masra. Authorities 4 Sept lifted siege and released party members arrested since 1 Sept, who totalled 279 according to party. Police 9 Sept fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters accompanying Masra to N’Djamena courthouse; 21 Sept cordoned off square in N’Djamena to contain Wakit Tama protest, reportedly detaining several demonstrators.
Intercommunal conflict persisted in Moyen-Chari province in south. Herder-farmer clashes 13-14 Sept left 19 dead in several localities of Lac Iro department; security forces detained 18 people.
Standoff with Mali over detention of Ivorian soldiers persisted and President Ouattara sought to renew cooperation with Burkina Faso amid jihadist threat.
Tensions with Mali ran high over detention of Ivorian soldiers. Bamako 3 Sept released three Ivorian female soldiers detained since July on accusations of acting as “mercenaries”. Malian interim president, Col. Assimi Goïta, 9 Sept dashed hopes of quick crisis resolution by implicitly linking fate of 46 soldiers still imprisoned in Mali to Côte d’Ivoire’s extradition of prominent Malians associated with deposed President Keïta. Yamoussoukro 14 Sept denounced “unacceptable blackmail” and called for emergency summit of West African regional bloc ECOWAS heads of state, who 22 Sept condemned Bamako’s “blackmail”, reiterated call for soldiers’ “immediate release”. High-level ECOWAS delegation 29 Sept travelled to Mali to negotiate soldiers’ release with Goïta; no breakthrough reported (see Mali).
Ouattara and Burkinabè president pledged to strengthen anti-jihadist operations. Ouattara 5 Sept met with Burkinabè interim president, Lt. Col. Damiba, in economic capital Abidjan; counterparts reportedly agreed to strengthen security cooperation including by conducting joint operations along shared border, which Côte d’Ivoire is seeking to secure against jihadist incursions.
Speculations around long-time exile Tidjane Thiam’s political plans. British daily newspaper The Telegraph 3 Sept reported that prominent Franco-Ivorian financier Tidjane Thiam, who returned to Côte d’Ivoire in Aug after more than 20 years in exile, was preparing presidential bid; Thiam has claimed that he remains loyal to Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, raising questions about his intention to challenge party leader Henri Konan Bédié, 88, who has repeatedly expressed his intention to run in 2025.
New anti-UN protests erupted amid rampant armed group violence in eastern provinces; President Tshisekedi came under scrutiny as top adviser faced corruption probe.
Anger rose at perceived impotence of national and UN forces in North Kivu. Anti-UN Mission (MONUSCO) demonstrations 6 Sept erupted in Beni city, with at least one civilian killed. UN Sec-Gen António Guterres 17 Sept conceded that MONUSCO was no longer capable of defeating M23 armed group operating in North Kivu’s Rutshuru territory, called for diplomatic solution involving DR Congo and Rwanda. Fresh protest against security forces’ perceived inaction against M23 held 22 Sept in Rutshuru town; clashes with police left at least one dead. Tshisekedi 26 Sept announced imminent arrival of Kenyan contingent of East African Community regional force to help stem insecurity in east, with focus on M23 around Bunagana town in Rutshuru. Congolese head of military operations against M23, Lt.-Gen. Philémon Yav Irung, arrested 19 Sept for undisclosed reasons.
Armed group violence continued in other eastern provinces. CODECO armed group sustained operations in Ituri province’s Djugu territory. Notably, CODECO 30 Aug-3 Sept launched attacks near Mongbwalu town, leaving at least 33 people dead, including CODECO members and civilians; 9 Sept attacked Mbidjo mining locality near Mongbwalu, with at least 17 killed and hundreds of houses burned down. In South Kivu province, suspected Twirwaneho militiamen 30 Sept shot UN peacekeeper dead at MONUSCO base in Minembwe territory. Congolese army 28 Sept said at least 22 people killed 26-27 Sept when two Ugandan military helicopters crashed in unclear circumstances in Congo’s Ituri province and Kabarole border zone, Uganda.
Legal proceedings impacted Tshisekedi’s inner circle. Vidiye Tshimanga, Tshisekedi’s special strategic adviser, 16 Sept resigned after videos allegedly showing him negotiating corrupt mining deal circulated online. Tshisekedi’s office same day affirmed commitment to fight corruption, and authorities 21-27 Sept detained Tshimanga as part of investigation. Meanwhile, Tshisekedi’s former Cabinet Director Vital Kamerhe, who was released in June after serving two years of his 13-year prison sentence for corruption and embezzlement, returned to political arena; Kamerhe 12 Sept launched campaign-like “peace” tour in North Kivu; Kamerhe’s return could help bolster support for Tshisekedi in east ahead of 2023 general elections.
Following resumption of Tigray conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia late Aug, Eritrea once more became embroiled in fighting.
Eritrea joined Ethiopia’s federal forces in launching military offensives against Tigray’s forces. Following renewed hostilities 24 Aug in northern Ethiopia, Eritrea 1 Sept became heavily involved in frontline fighting once more, backing Ethiopia’s federal forces and allied militia amid longstanding enmity between Asmara and Tigray’s ruling party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). According to Tigray authorities’ statement 1 Sept, Eritrean and federal forces launched major offensives from Eritrea in Tigray’s north, expanding conflict to new fronts (see Ethiopia). Reports 17 Sept emerged that govt was calling on reservists from armed forces to join fight. Tigray authorities 20 Sept accused Eritrea of launching “full-scale” offensive via multiple border crossings in Tigray’s north, marking further escalation; U.S. Special Envoy Mike Hammer same day condemned actions. Tigray authorities 27 Sept accused Eritrean forces of airstrike on Adi Daero town in region’s north west 25 Sept that killed five civilians. Meanwhile, Asmara 16 Sept criticised European Union over 14 Sept statement, which accused Eritrea of “impeding ongoing efforts towards peace in Ethiopia”. Asmara said statement overlooked “fundamental causes” of war and insisted that TPLF continues to pursue longstanding policies of “territorial aggrandizement and ‘regime change’” in Eritrea through force. Desire to defeat TPLF and fear of Tigray invasion suggests Asmara will continue its military offensive and spoil any future peace process between Tigray and federal authorities that allows Tigray’s current military force to remain intact.
Asmara continued diplomatic engagement, notably with China. China’s Special Envoy to Horn of Africa Ambassador Xue Bing 16 Sept met with President Isaias Afwerki, stressing China’s readiness to contribute toward “regional efforts of conflict resolution and sustainable peace”. FM Osman Saleh 28 Sept held bilateral talks with his counterparts from Iran and Cuba; both meetings discussed strengthening bilateral ties.
Tigray conflict escalated as hostilities expanded to new fronts and Eritrean forces became heavily involved in fighting; violence persisted in Oromia region.
Hostilities in northern Ethiopia escalated and spread to new fronts. Following resumption of fighting 24 Aug in northern Ethiopia, Eritrea 1 Sept re-entered conflict; Tigray authorities accused federal and Eritrean forces of launching major offensives in Tigray’s north, with some clashes in Amhara-controlled Western Tigray. Throughout month, federal and Eritrean forces clashed with Tigray’s forces in Western, North Western, Eastern and Central Zones, and Afar region’s Fenti Rasu (Zone 2). Federal and Eritrean forces 13 Sept captured Shiraro town (North Western Zone), seemingly to position themselves for assault on Shire city. Federal forces 13, 14, 23 Sept struck Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, killing at least 11 civilians. Tigray authorities 20 Sept accused Eritrea of launching “full-scale” offensive in Tigray’s north, though scale of incursion appears to have been overstated; 27 Sept accused Eritrean forces of airstrike on Adi Daero town 25 Sept that killed five civilians. In Amhara region, Tigray forces clashed with federal and Amhara security forces and militia in Wag Himra, North Wollo and North Gondar Zones.
Diplomatic efforts failed to halt fighting in northern Ethiopia. Tigray leaders 11 Sept announced readiness for truce and African Union (AU)-led peace process following backdoor negotiations facilitated by U.S. Special Envoy for Horn of Africa Mike Hammer; privately maintained opposition to AU Envoy Olusegun Obasanjo and demand for return of Western Tigray and resumption of basic services. International actors, including AU and UN, welcomed Tigray’s readiness for “peaceful resolution” to conflict, while Kenyan President Ruto 13 Sept appointed former President Kenyatta to lead country’s diplomatic efforts in Ethiopia, signalling Nairobi’s continued engagement in peace initiative. Despite diplomatic overtures, federal govt had yet to respond to Tigray authorities’ announcement by end of month.
Violence persisted in Oromia. Clashes in Oromia region between security forces and Oromo Liberation Army continued throughout month in North, East, West Shewa, Kellem, West Wollega, East Guji, Ilu Aba Bora and Buno Bedele Zones. Ethiopian Human Rights Commission 6 Sept confirmed massacre of over 60 civilians 29-31 Aug in Horo Guduru Wollega Zone; report said “armed militia from Amhara”, likely militias known as Fano, perpetrated violence.
West African leaders imposed gradual sanctions on military junta over slow transition and opposition protest again turned violent.
Junta faced sustained domestic and regional pressure to speed up transition. On first anniversary of Col. Doumbouya’s coup, coalition of civil society groups and political parties National Front for the Defence of the Constitution 5 Sept led anti-military protest in capital Conakry. Sporadic clashes erupted between protesters and security forces, with govt claiming ten police officers and one civilian wounded; several also detained for allegedly causing “public disorder”. FNDC next day accused authorities of using “weapons of war” during protest; 8 Sept filed legal complaint against Doumbouya, who has French citizenship, in France’s capital Paris, accusing him of being complicit in “homicides and torture” allegedly committed during anti-junta protests in July-Aug. West African regional bloc ECOWAS 22 Sept announced gradual sanctions on military junta to pressure it to agree to reasonable timetable for return to civilian rule; sanctions include asset freezes and travel bans against individuals and groups.
Doumbouya sought extradition of deposed President Condé from Türkiye. Doumbouya 7 Sept reportedly threatened to halt activities of Turkish company Albayrak, which operates autonomous port of Conakry, in bid to obtain return of Condé, who has resided in Türkiye since May. Police 12 Sept forced general manager of Albayrak’s Guinean subsidiary and three of his associates to leave their offices, but port continued to operate.
Trial of security forces’ members over 2009 stadium massacre began. Trial of 11 individuals accused of responsibility in 2009 Conakry stadium massacre, including then-junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara, launched 28 Sept; security forces loyal to Camara accused of killing at least 156 people and raping over 100 women who had gathered in stadium for political rally.
William Ruto was sworn in as president after Supreme Court rejected challenges to election results, bringing peaceful electoral cycle to a close.
Highest court upheld Ruto’s presidential win. Supreme Court 5 Sept unanimously confirmed Ruto’s victory in Aug presidential elections, rejecting petitions by presidential runner-up Raila Odinga and others seeking to nullify results. Odinga immediately said he would respect ruling despite disagreeing with it, while outgoing President Kenyatta, who backed Odinga during presidential race, same day promised smooth transition of power. Tensions however persisted. Police 26 Sept used teargas to disperse Odinga’s supporters in capital Nairobi who protested suspension of electoral commission’s Deputy chief executive officer Ruth Kulundu for allegedly helping four commissioners who disputed presidential election outcome; high court 30 Sept reinstated Kulundu.
Ruto sworn in as president in peaceful transition of power. Newly-elected National Assembly and Senate 8 Sept held inaugural sessions, with Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza coalition winning speaker positions in both chambers. Ruto sworn in as president 13 Sept during ceremony held in Nairobi. In spirit of smooth democratic transition, Ruto in inaugural address announced appointing Kenyatta as peace envoy for Great Lakes and Horn of Africa, signalling continuity in foreign policy agenda. Faced with economic crisis, Ruto 13 Sept said he would not renew temporary food subsidy on maize flour, and next day partially ended fuel subsidy, causing prices to skyrocket. Ruto during first days in office however implemented fertiliser subsidy effective 19 Sept and launched $500mn fund to support small businesses. Ruto 27 Sept unveiled 22-member cabinet including seven women, failing to fulfil campaign pledge of giving women 50% of cabinet positions.
Cattle-raiding violence persisted in north. In Marsabit county, police 15 Sept thwarted cattle raid, retrieving 600 cows. Alleged Pokot cattle rustlers 24 Sept killed 11 people, including eight police officers, near Kakiteitei village, Turkana county.
Interim govt sought allies in region as dispute with Côte d’Ivoire worsened and insecurity prevailed across large swathes of territory.
Deadly jihadist violence remained rampant in centre and north. In centre, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 2 Sept killed between 13 and 15 civilians in Tiouga village (Ségou region). Media outlets including Radio France Internationale early Sept reported accusations of sexual violence, including rape on female villagers, after army, Russian paramilitary Wagner Group and Dozo hunters 4 Sept entered Nia-Ouro village (Mopti region); UN mission opened investigation into allegations. In north, Islamic State Sahel Province (IS Sahel) 6 Sept seized Talataye town (Gao region) after fighting with Algiers peace deal signatory armed group Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) and JNIM; clashes reportedly left 17 JNIM, three MSA fighters and 42 civilians dead and displaced 13,000 inhabitants; IS Sahel reportedly withdrew by 9 Sept. On Independence Day, hundreds 22 Sept marched in capital Bamako chanting anti-UN slogans and carrying Russian flags.
Spat with Côte d’Ivoire worsened while tensions with France simmered. Govt 3 Sept released three of 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested 10 July. President Goïta 9 Sept conditioned release of remaining 46 to Ivorian authorities agreeing to extradite Malian officials associated with deposed President Keita. Côte d’Ivoire 14 Sept denounced “unacceptable blackmail”; West African regional bloc ECOWAS 29 Sept sent high-level delegation to Bamako to negotiate soldiers’ release; no breakthrough reported. Meanwhile, authorities 15 Sept briefly detained two French soldiers on accusations of spying; Interim PM Col. Abdoulaye Maïga 24 Sept at UN General Assembly accused France of violating Malian airspace to provide “information, weapons and ammunition to terrorist groups”.
Military leaders sought support among neighbours. Interim President Col. Goïta 3 Sept met with Burkinabè counterpart Lt. Col. Damiba and 7 Sept with Guinea’s FM Morissanda Kouyaté in Bamako; Defence Minister Col. Sadio Camara 4-6 Sept visited Mauritania; all meetings reportedly focused on security cooperation. Interim PM Maïga 28 Sept said Mali will not respect sanctions ECOWAS imposed on Guinea’s ruling junta on 22 Sept.
Islamist insurgents continued to stretch international and govt forces across Cabo Delgado province, and in northern tip of neighbouring Nampula province.
Insurgents pushed south into Nampula for first time since June. After crossing Lúrio river from Cabo Delgado into Nampula, Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) 2 Sept attacked Kutua village, Eráti district, and 6 Sept killed Italian nun in Chipene village, Memba district. President Nyusi next day said recent attacks in both districts had killed six people. Also in Memba, ISMP 8 Sept beheaded at least three people in Naheco village; unconfirmed reports 10 Sept said govt forces killed eight insurgents near Juma village. UN humanitarian office 9 Sept said 38,000 people had fled violence in Eráti and Memba districts since 30 Aug. Heading back north to Cabo Delgado’s southern districts, suspected ISMP insurgents 13 Sept beheaded five civilians in Ichibua village, Chiure district; 19 Sept beheaded three people near Pulo village and 24 Sept reportedly beheaded several others at Muissi and Nampipi villages, all Metuge district.
Violence continued in Cabo Delgado’s central and northern districts. In Macomia district, govt forces claimed killing four insurgent commanders near Nkoe village on 7 Sept; subsequent ISMP attack at Nkoe 15 Sept left up to 16 soldiers killed. In Nangade district, ISMP next day ambushed govt troops and Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) forces during counter-insurgency operation near Chitama village, claiming 19 govt and SAMIM soldiers killed, while SAMIM 23 Sept confirmed one death and seven injuries in its ranks. In Muidumbe district, suspected ISMP 12 Sept reportedly killed three people in raid on Mapate village, and attack involving explosive device 15 Sept targeted govt forces in Xitaxi village, reportedly leading to intense exchange of fire. Nyusi 24 Sept said govt forces engaged in fighting with insurgents in Omba area of Mueda district. Police 28 Sept said 16 bodies of insurgents found in forests of Quissanga district, including some likely killed in clashes with govt forces.
President Nyusi re-elected as ruling party leader. Nyusi elected 25 Sept to third five-year term as leader of Frelimo party during party congress on outskirts of capital Maputo.
President Bazoum worked to strengthen regional and domestic support as anti-French protests erupted notably in capital Niamey; insecurity persisted in several regions.
Bazoum’s security strategy continued to arouse anti-French sentiment. Civil society coalition M62 18 Sept held demonstrations in Niamey and south-western Dosso city against French Barkhane force’s relocation to Niger; hundreds turned out, chanting pro-Russia slogans, with no violent incidents reported. As part of Bazoum’s attempt to consolidate domestic support amid backlash over increased French presence, National Council for Political Dialogue – permanent framework bringing together govt, opposition and other political parties – 9 Sept met in Niamey for first time in almost two years; participants discussed security situation among other topics. Bazoum also discussed security cooperation with Burkinabè President Lt. Col. Damiba 11 Sept and adviser to Chad’s president next day in Niamey. News outlet Africa Intelligence 5 Sept reported European Union would send training mission to Niger at Bazoum’s request.
Sporadic jihadist violence persisted in south west and south east. In Tillabery region (south west), security forces week of 14 Sept killed eight jihadists in Tera department, and arrested four individuals suspected of cooperating with jihadists in Abala department. In Diffa region (south east), suspected Boko Haram faction JAS 3 Sept killed three civilians in Bosso village (Bosso department), 6 Sept killed seven on Liberia island (N’Guigmi department); local official said jihadist elements 20 Sept killed 11 farmers near Toumour town (Diffa department). Multinational Joint Task Force in Sept conducted several operations in Diffa, N’Guigmi and Bosso departments, reportedly killing several suspected jihadists and detaining scores.
Violence continued to rage across country months away from 2023 general elections.
Authorities’ offensive in North East put jihadists under pressure. In Borno state, soldiers and local self-defence militias 1-2 Sept attacked Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in Bama area, with govt airstrikes reportedly killing over 200 militants, including high-ranking commanders. Also in Borno, airstrikes 9 Sept killed 26 ISWAP fighters in Ngala area, and air force 20 Sept struck several ISWAP hideouts in Marte area, reportedly leaving “scores” dead. Clashes between ISWAP and Boko Haram (JAS) continued. Notably, fierce battle along border between Dikwa and Bama areas 15 Sept left at least eight jihadists dead; ISWAP 16-17 Sept attacked JAS enclave at Gaizuwa village in Bama, with up to 30 killed.
Armed groups continued to defy security operations in North West and North Central zones. Security forces 7 Sept invaded armed group hideouts in Kachia and Birnin Gwari areas in Kaduna state, as well as in Rafi area of Niger state, killing over 30 militiamen and arresting 15 informants; govt airstrikes against armed group hideout in Niger’s Shiroro area next day killed at least 20. In Zamfara state, air force 17, 22 Sept bombed armed group camps in Zurmi and Birnin Magaji/Kiyaw areas, killing dozens of combatants. Defying military operations, gunmen 12-13 Sept abducted about 60 people in and around Kasuwan Magani town in Kajuru area (Kaduna). In Katsina state, gunmen 16 Sept abducted at least 50 civilians in Bakiyawa village, Batagarawa area. Gunmen 23 Sept killed at least 18 people in attack on mosque in Bukkuyum area, Zamfara.
South East zone saw Biafra separatist agitation and criminal violence. Attacks on security personnel, politicians and other citizens continued in Sept particularly in Anambra, Abia and Imo states. Notably, in Anambra, gunmen 11 Sept ambushed convoy of Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Uba at Enugwu-Ukwu town in Njikoka area, killing at least six people; 28 Sept reportedly killed five soldiers in Orumba South area.
Election campaign kicked off. Campaign for general elections set for Feb 2023 started 28 Sept; presidential candidates next day signed accord committing to peaceful campaign.
As famine looms in country’s south, centre-periphery tensions persisted over resource-sharing, and govt forces gained ground in large-scale offensive against Al-Shabaab in central regions.
Relations between Mogadishu and federal member states remained strained. After member state finance ministers late Aug threatened to stop cooperation with federal finance ministry amid disagreement over resource sharing, federal and state finance ministers 13 Sept met in capital Mogadishu, agreed on allocation of $94mn disbursement from World Bank. State humanitarian ministries 14 Sept complained they had not received funding that United Arab Emirates had allocated to Mogadishu three months ago; PM’s office pledged to address issue. State-level term extensions continued with Galmudug state parliament 13 Sept adding a year to terms of state president, govt and parliament.
Clan militias and govt forces made gains against Al-Shabaab in central regions. Federal govt 25 Sept said army and local clan militiamen had recaptured 40 settlements in Hiraan region and six in Galgaduud region in less than three weeks. Notably in Hiraan, national army reported 43 Al-Shabaab killed 16-17 Sept on outskirts of Bulobarde town; U.S. airstrike 18 Sept also killed 27 militants near Bulobarde. Govt forces and local clan militia around 20 Sept also recaptured strategic town of Booco in Hiraan. Further south, local militia 26 Sept reportedly captured four settlements on outskirts of South West state capital Baidoa (Bay region) with support of national forces. Al-Shabaab responded with punitive actions against communities from which militias hail. Notably, Al-Shabaab fighters overnight 2-3 Sept killed at least 19 people on Beledweyne-Mahas axis in Hiraan; suicide bombing 25 Sept targeted military facility in Wadajir district of Mogadishu, killing up to 15 people.
Hundreds of thousands could die from hunger before year’s end. U.S. Development Agency’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network 5 Sept said famine projected before Dec in southern Bay region. UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths same day warned “famine is at the door” as drought worsens and global food prices surge. UN children’s agency 13 Sept reported over 500,000 Somali children under five expected to risk death from famine this year, number unseen in any country this century.
Presidential election likely postponed until 2023 due to “technical and financial constraints” as political dispute over sequencing of electoral cycle continued.
Impasse over sequencing of elections unresolved after proposed postponement of presidential vote. Electoral commission 24 Sept announced it could not organise presidential election on 13 Nov, citing “time, technical and financial constraints”, and proposed postponing it to July 2023. President Bihi, whose mandate ends in Nov, now expected to file request to parliament’s Upper House to confirm postponement and term extension for himself and govt. Opposition Waddani party 24 Sept welcomed postponement, but dispute over sequencing of elections persisted. Earlier in month, opposition-dominated Lower House of Parliament 19 Sept approved bill to hold presidential and political parties’ elections simultaneously. Upper House, largely seen as favouring govt (which continues to argue that political parties’ elections must be held before presidential election), 26 Sept refused to examine bill and sent it back to Lower House, citing procedural flaws.
Attacks on media continued. Information Minister Suleyman Yusuf Ali “Koore” 6 Sept revoked privately owned broadcaster CBA TV’s right to operate in Somaliland, saying its license had expired and it had aired content threatening peace in region. Committee to Protect Journalists 16 Sept called on authorities to allow CBA TV to resume operations and to desist from using bans to silence press.
Monitoring body confirmed roadmap to extend transitional govt’s rule to 2025; deadly violence persisted, notably in Upper Nile state as fighting erupted at site for displaced persons.
Roadmap to extend transitional period until Feb 2025 confirmed. Members of Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, responsible for tracking implementation of 2018 peace agreement, 1 Sept confirmed extending transitional period beyond anticipated Feb 2023 end until Feb 2025; extension provides additional 24 months for govt to address outstanding tasks of agreement. UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) chief Nicolas Haysom 16 Sept told UN Security Council that next few months will be litmus test for political parties to demonstrate their commitment to roadmap. Meanwhile, nearly 7,000 troops from Bahr el Ghazal region 21 Sept integrated into unified forces, and another 1, 701 troops from Jonglei state capital, Bor, on 27 Sept; creating unified armed forces command remains key provision of 2018 peace agreement.
Violence persisted, notably in Upper Nile state with hundreds reportedly killed. In Upper Nile (north east), fighting continued between breakaway splinter factions of VP Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) after ethnic Nuer Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual removed ethnic Shilluk Gen. Johnson Olony as deputy of his “Kitgwang” faction in Aug. Notably, UN 8 Sept reported that fighting between Gatwech- and Olony-aligned groups had erupted day before near Adidiang island where thousands forced to flee fighting had taken refuge; according to unconfirmed reports, up to 300 people were killed in attacks. In Greater Pibor Administrative Area (east), unknown assailants 13 Sept killed herdsman and stole 21 cattle. In disputed Abyei Administrative Area along border with Sudan, armed youth from Twic country (Warrap state) 25 Sept reportedly attacked Aneet and Agok villages, killing six.
Security situation remained fragile in Unity state, UN called for accountability. Amid persistent high level violence in Unity State, UNMISS and UN Human Rights body 6 Sept released joint report on fighting from 11 Feb to 31 May between forces loyal to President Kiir and elements of SPLM/A-IO loyal to VP Machar in Unity state. Report found that fighting left 173 civilians killed and 45,000 displaced, highlighted need for accountability for abuses to address ongoing conflict.
Tensions over return to civilian transition persisted amid signs of growing rivalry between military leaders; intercommunal clashes erupted in Blue Nile and West Kordofan states.
Sudan Bar Association delivered proposal to restore democratic transition. Sudan Bar Association 7 Sept presented final draft of transitional constitution, designed to help restore country’s democratic transition. Proposal calls for civilian cabinet and civilian-led national security council that includes military officers. Trilateral African Union (AU)-UN mission in Sudan (UNITAMS)-Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mechanism 10 Sept welcomed proposal, as did European Union, U.S. and European embassies on 12 Sept, though fractures remain between pro-democracy groups over readiness to negotiate with military. Public prosecutor 25 Sept called in head of Sudanese Bar Association steering committee for questioning and ordered seizure of headquarters.
Tensions grew between military leaders over return to civilian transition. VP of Transitional Sovereign Council and Commander of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti” 16 Sept reiterated military’s commitment to withdraw from politics and hand over power to civilian govt. In sign of growing rivalry between Hemedti and army chief and de facto head of state Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Burhan’s media adviser next day appeared to push back on Hemedti’s comments by stating army would not hand over power except to govt “agreed upon by all Sudanese”, indicating reluctance to cede power. Meanwhile, thousands 13 Sept protested against military rule in capital Khartoum and again on 29 Sept in Khartoum, Wad Madani, Nyala, Dongola and Atbara cities.
Intercommunal violence flared in Blue Nile and West Kordofan states. In Blue Nile state, clashes involving Hausa and Blue Nile communities 1-4 Sept reportedly killed 23 and injured 44 around East Ganis village and Roseires town. State media 8 Sept reported over 21,000 people had fled violence. In West Kordofan, clashes over border demarcation in Abu Zabad town between Hamar tribe and Misseriya tribe 10-12 Sept killed at least six; tribal leaders 19 Sept signed agreement to end fighting. Meanwhile, authorities 15 Sept announced floods killed at least 20 in previous week, bringing total death toll since beginning of rainy season to 134.
Authorities launched campaign to retrieve illegal weapons in bid to curb criminality and signed counter-terrorism agreement with Mozambique.
Authorities 5 Sept launched nationwide campaign to recover illegal firearms, giving citizens two months to surrender weapons or face prosecution. President Suluhu Hassan and Defence Minister Stergomena Tax 21 Sept travelled to Mozambique and signed defence and security agreements with Mozambican President Nyusi aimed at fighting terrorism and crime along shared border amid persistent jihadist violence in northern Mozambique.
State of emergency extended in northern region amid growing jihadist threat.
Govt continued to take steps to contain jihadist violence. Govt 6 Sept extended for six months state of emergency in effect in northern Savanes region since 13 June, with goal of streamlining decision-making and facilitating troop deployment amid jihadist threat. UN counter-terrorism office 7 Sept signed agreement with govt to strengthen cooperation in “preventing and countering terrorist travels and serious crimes”.
Civil society challenged authorities over approach to insecurity. Several civil society organisations including Togolese League of Human Rights 12 Sept denounced military approach to insecurity in country’s north, urged govt to address socio-political marginalisation there.
Cattle-related violence persisted in north, parliament passed controversial cyber law, and authorities continued operations in DR Congo’s east.
Several cattle-related incidents reported in Northern region. Despite recent lull in fighting between military and armed pastoralists amid food crisis in Karamoja sub-region, army 4 Sept reportedly killed seven cattle rustlers in Kaabong district. In neighbouring Acholi sub-region, suspected Karimojong cattle rustlers around 7 Sept reportedly killed two soldiers in Paimol sub-county and two civilians in Lapono sub-county (both Agago district).
Parliament passed cyber law in likely bid to curb dissent. Parliament 8 Sept passed cyber law criminalising use of social media to “ridicule, degrade or demean another person”, with penalties of up to five-year imprisonment; civil society group ICT Policy Centre for Eastern and Southern Africa (CIPESA) 12 Sept decried law as “draconian” bid to curtail free speech online and urged President Museveni to deny assent and return bill to parliament.
Uganda improved ties with neighbours, renewed operations in DR Congo’s east. Amid continued rapprochement with Rwanda, FM Odongo Jeje Abubakhar 1 Sept held diplomatic talks with counterpart Vincent Biruta in Rwandan capital Kigali; leaders agreed to convene Joint Permanent Commission by March 2023 for first time in over ten years. Kampala 1 Sept also paid first instalment of $325mn reparations to DR Congo – as ordered in Feb by International Court of Justice – for damages caused by Uganda’s military during occupation of parts of DR Congo in 1990s. Uganda and DR Congo 22 Sept reportedly extended joint military operations against Allied Democratic Forces rebels in eastern DR Congo for two months (see DR Congo).
In lead-up to 2023 elections, political opposition continued to accuse authorities of harassment; food security crisis loomed large amid runaway inflation.
Political tensions continued ahead of 2023 elections. Main opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) 11 Sept claimed explosive device same day targeted party leader Nelson Chamisa as he arrived to address rally in Chinhoyi city (Mashonaland West province). CCC denounced “state-sponsored violence” without providing evidence. NGO Amnesty International 21 Sept denounced “continued arbitrary detention” of CCC legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole, who were arrested in June on charges of “inciting violence”, urged Harare to release them “immediately and unconditionally” and “stop criminalizing dissent”. Court 29 Sept sentenced prominent novelist and activist, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and journalist Julie Barnes to six-month suspended prison term on charges of inciting violence during protests in 2020; International NGO Amnesty International next day denounced “travesty of justice”.
Report warned of rising food insecurity amid persistent economic crisis. In World Bank food security report published 15 Sept, Zimbabwe (along with Lebanon) topped list of countries worst affected by domestic food price inflation, with real food inflation at 68% on year-on-year basis.
Taliban continued discriminatory policies toward women and girls and rejected U.S. initiative on unfreezing state assets; Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) stepped up deadly attacks.
Taliban leadership continued repression of women’s rights and freedoms. Taliban Supreme Court 4 Sept asserted there was “no need” for female judges. Deputy justice minister next day stated country had “no need” for constitution or political parties. Local authorities 5 Sept reopened girls’ secondary schooling in Paktia province after demands by local tribal elders; de facto authorities, however, closed schools once again, sparking protests. UN special rapporteur 12 Sept highlighted significant deterioration of women’s rights since Taliban takeover. Emir 21 Sept appointed close ally Mawlawi Habibullah Agha as education minister.
Despite poor economic trajectory, Taliban did not accept U.S. proposal on unfreezing state assets. U.S. 15 Sept announced plan to establish fund in Switzerland for disbursement of $3.5bn from frozen Afghan financial reserves. Taliban same day called mechanism “unacceptable”, primarily as it bypassed central bank and excluded Taliban input. Minister of commerce 6 Sept expressed hopes of joining China’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor megaproject. In apparent prisoner exchange, U.S. 19 Sept handed drug dealer and long-time Taliban supporter, Haji Bashir Noorzai, to Taliban, which released U.S. citizen taken hostage in 2019.
ISKP intensified deadly attacks, Taliban launched new offensive in north. Taliban 1 Sept claimed killing of ISKP’s shadow governor for Farah province (west). ISKP 2 Sept killed firebrand cleric and Taliban supporter Mawlawi Mujib ur Rahman Ansari in suicide blast in Herat province (west). ISKP 5 Sept attacked Russia’s embassy in capital Kabul, killing two Russian diplomats, among others. Blast at Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque inside Kabul’s diplomatic zone 23 Sept caused casualties and bore hallmarks of ISKP. Blast at mosque in Kabul 23 Sept killed at least seven worshippers; similar attack on school in Kabul killed at least 19 students 30 Sept. Meanwhile, Taliban 13 Sept launched major offensive in Panjshir and Andarab provinces against insurgents. Some anti-Taliban political figures, notably National Resistance Front leader, 15 Sept gathered in Austrian capital Vienna. Al-Qaeda 12 Sept claimed group had ceased any attacks against U.S. from Afghanistan.
Political tensions remained elevated in lead-up to parliamentary elections due in 2023 as security forces clashed with opposition protesters; Myanmar’s conflict spread to border regions.
Political tensions ran high ahead of 2023 elections. Sporadic clashes 1 Sept took place in several districts when police attempted to prevent Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) from holding public rallies to celebrate party’s 44th anniversary; notably, police fired on rally in Naraynganj district, killing one and injuring five. PM Sheikh Hasina same day said police had right to protect themselves against violent protesters. BNP also held countrywide rallies against rising fuel, power and commodity during month; clashes injured several protesters and police officers in Rangpur district on 6 Sept, in capital Dhaka on 15 Sept, and in Munshganj district on 21 Sept. Awami League activists 17 Sept attacked and injured BNP local leader in Dhaka and party’s VP in Comilla district. Delivering statement at 51st session of Human Rights Council on 12 Sept, UN acting rights chief Nada al-Nashif called on govt to ensure freedoms of expression and to bar security forces from using “excessive force” against protests in “polarising environment” ahead of general elections, due in 2023. EU mission in Dhaka 15 Sept “raised concerns about escalating protest-related violence and need to ensure participatory and peaceful conditions” in lead-up to elections.
Govt protested cross-border fire from Myanmar. Govt called in Myanmar ambassador four times in late Aug-Sept to protest Myanmar’s strikes along border and intrusions into Bangladeshi airspace (see Myanmar). Notably, Myanmar military helicopters and fighter jets 3 Sept fired shells and gunshots in Bandarban’s Gumdham border area, and approached to within 300-400 yards of Bangladesh’s airspace; 10-12 mortar shells reportedly landed inside Bangladeshi territory 16-19 Sept. FM Abdul Momen 20 Sept said Myanmar mistakenly shelled territory due to “crisscrossed” border.
PM Hasina visited India, securing defence agreement. State visit to India 5-8 Sept saw signing of first defence contract under India’s $500mn line of credit associated with 2019 deal between two countries. Hasina and Indian PM Modi agreed to end deaths from “incidents along the border”, reference to Bangladeshis killed during past Indian border security operations.
China continued high maritime presence in waters around contested Senkaku/Diaoyu island chain, while Beijing and Tokyo held high-level virtual meeting.
Chinese vessels maintained high maritime activity. Four Chinese vessels 8 Sept entered waters around contested Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands; Japan next day said it was “extremely concerned” about Chinese activities around islands. As of 27 Sept, 68 Chinese Coast Guard vessels entered Japan’s contiguous zone over 19 days, including four identified in Japan’s territorial waters; notably, one Chinese naval vessel 15 Sept entered Japan’s territorial waters off southern Kagoshima prefecture.
Japan-China FMs held video-conference to discuss relations. Ahead of fiftieth anniversary of Japan and China normalising relations on 29 Sept, Chinese FM Wang Yi and Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi 12 Sept outlined five points on bilateral relations, including to “deepen cooperation” and “foster positive and friendly mutual perception”.
Japan conducted military exercises with India and U.S. Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force 10 Sept commenced week-long joint exercise with Indian Navy in Bay of Bengal. Japanese Air Self-Defence Force 12 Sept held joint exercises with U.S. forces in Sea of Japan off Aomori prefecture; USS Ronald Reagan same day departed Yokosuka to resume patrol. Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada 14 Sept held first meeting with U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in which both agreed on joint technological research to counter hypersonic weapons.
India and China agreed partial disengagement along disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC), signalling progress in overcoming months-long stalemate.
Govt and Beijing announced disengagement from border friction point. Following 16th round of commander-level talks, sides 8 Sept announced their armies began to disengage by few kilometres from Patrolling Point-15 in Gogra-Hot Springs area of Eastern Ladakh, aiming to creating buffer zone in area disputed since May 2020; 50,000 personnel on both sides would remain in area. China welcomed deal, saying “beginning of disengagement is a positive development”, but reiterated: “We don’t accept the so-called status quo created by India’s illegal crossing of the LAC”; agreeing disengagement at remaining friction points will remain tough challenge.
Govt signed treaty with eight armed groups in north east. Govt and Assam state authorities 15 Sept signed agreement with eight armed tribal groups in Assam aimed at mainstreaming groups and affording them political and economic rights; home ministry said all eight groups had agreed to abandon armed violence. Union Home Minister Amit Shah 15 Sept said that it was govt’s intention to reconcile with all armed insurgent groups in region before 2024, when national elections are due. Earlier, National Investigation Agency 2 Sept conducted searches in 16 locations in Assam state (north east) and militant training in camps based across border in Myanmar in connection with recruitment by militant outfit United Liberation Front of Asom.
Maoist violence continued. Security forces 2 Sept killed two alleged Maoists in Seraikela-Kharsawan district, Jharkhand state (east); 8 Sept arrested two alleged Maoists in Telangana state (centre), discovering explosive material and Maoist literature. Around 700 Maoist sympathisers, including 300 militia, 18 Sept surrendered in Malkangiri district, Orissa state (east).
In important international developments. While addressing UN Security Council, FM S. Jaishankar 22 Sept said: “The trajectory of the Ukraine conflict is a matter of profound concern for the entire international community”, signalling veiled criticism of Russia for first time.
Diplomatic engagement between India and Pakistan remained tense, while dispute over electoral rights and localised violence persisted in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
Tensions persisted between India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s foreign ministry 5 Sept blamed India for “extra-judicial killing” of Tabarak Hussain, “mentally challenged Pakistani national”, in Aug; Pakistan claimed he inadvertently crossed border, while Indian army says Pakistan sent him to target Indian positions. Addressing Shanghai Cooperation Organisation 16 Sept, India PM Modi indirectly criticised Pakistan for blocking its aid to Afghanistan by denying transit rights. Addressing UN General Assembly 23 Sept, Pakistan PM Sharif said “constructive engagement” with India was dependent on “enabling environment” by reversing Aug 2019 steps in J&K. In third such move, China 15 Sept blocked U.S.-India proposal to add Lashkar-e-Tayyaba’s Sajjad Mir – reportedly wanted for 2008 Mumbai attacks – to UN Security Council’s 1267 sanctions list.
Controversy over voting rights fuelled tensions in J&K. Tensions persisted over chief electoral officer’s attempt to grant “anyone who is living ordinarily” right to vote, marking change from pre-2019 policy which permitted only permanent residents to vote. Region’s former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti 6 Sept said non-local labourers and security forces personnel were being enlisted as voters in Baramulla district. As Kashmiri Pandits continued protests and sought transfer outside of Kashmir for safety amid rise in targeted attacks, Mufti 13 Sept accused govt of ignoring Pandits’ grievances and using “arm twisting approach” to “muzzle their voice”. All Migrant (Displaced) Employees Association Kashmir 19 Sept said: “Either the government should provide us proper security in Kashmir Valley or take back its oppressive orders”.
Militants attacks and security operations continued in J&K. Militant 2 Sept shot and injured non-local Muslim labourer in Pulwama district. Security forces 6 Sept killed two alleged Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Anantnag district and same day recovered 5kg bomb on outskirts of Srinagar regional capital; 7 Sept killed two alleged Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind militants in Anantnag district, and two alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militants in Shopian district; 12 Sept killed alleged militant in Shopian district; 14 Sept killed two alleged Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind militants on outskirts of Srinagar.
North Korea fired ballistic missiles as U.S. and South Korea held military drills, Seoul proposed humanitarian talks with north, and Pyongyang outlined use of nuclear arsenal.
As U.S.-South Korea military drills ended, Pyongyang launched spate of ballistic missiles. U.S. and South Korea 1 Sept concluded joint Ulchi Freedom Shield summer exercises, largest for four years; exercises included eleven different types of field exercise, including joint aircraft carrier strike drills and amphibious landings. North Korea did not respond, but 24 Sept launched first ballistic missile; launch came after South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol 21 Sept delivered UN General Assembly speech without mentioning North Korea for first time ever, and ahead of U.S.-South Korea joint naval exercises 26-29 Sept and visit by U.S. VP Kamala Harris to South Korean capital Seoul and inter-Korean border. Pyongyang 28-29 Sept launched additional missiles, including after VP Harris departed. South Korea, U.S. and Japan 30 Sept held anti-submarine exercises for first time in five years.
South Korea sought progress with north on reunions of separated families. Seoul 8 Sept requested talks with North Korea on restarting unions of families separated by Korean War, in first attempt by new administration to make progress on longstanding humanitarian issue; Pyongyang did not respond to outreach, reaffirming disdain for new conservative administration.
North Korea promulgated new law governing nuclear use. Ahead of country’s founding day on 9 Sept, North Korea 8 Sept promulgated new law specifying conditions for use of nuclear arsenal. Law stipulates North will not attack non-nuclear states except if allied with nuclear states, nuclear weapons can be deployed if “attack by hostile forces on the state leadership…was launched or drew near”, and use aimed at preventing “expansion and protraction of a war”. In speech accompanying new law, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un same day declared “legislating nuclear weapons policy is to draw an irretrievable line so that there can be no bargaining over our nuclear weapons”. While symbolic, law appears to be timed to raise regional military stakes in absence of highly provocative actions ahead of China’s ruling party congress beginning on 16 Oct.
After two-year pause, fighting resurged in Rakhine State; authorities continued to face violent opposition in other regions and repress peaceful dissent.
Deadly conflict escalated in Rakhine. Informal ceasefire between military and ethnic armed group Arakan Army (AA) in place since Nov 2020 collapsed: after AA 31 Aug carried out raid on Border Guard Police outpost on Myanmar-Bangladesh border in Maungdaw township, killing at least 19 officers, military 2 Sept launched attacks on AA positions with two helicopter gunships, with fire landing in Bangladesh (see Bangladesh). AA 1 Sept attacked military convoy with landmines in Ann township, destroying two vehicles. AA 7 Sept attacked govt office in Myebon township, killing and injuring several soldiers. AA forces 9-11 Sept attacked and captured military camp in Maungdaw township, killing 13 soldiers. In southern Chin State, after AA late Aug claimed to have killed ten soldiers, clashes were reported in Paletwa 1 Sept.
Violence in other regions continued, including in Shan State (south) and in Sagaing region (north). In Shan state, Karenni armed groups, including Karenni Army and Karenni Nationalities Defence Force, 8 Sept ambushed regime forces in Pekon township, reportedly killing up to 20 soldiers. Military during month also carried out helicopter gunship attacks on several villages in Tabayin Township in Sagaing, culminating in 19 Sept attack where at least 11 children were killed when two helicopters fired on monastery school for more than hour.
Crackdown on dissent continued, regime strengthened cooperation with Russia. Courts 2 Sept handed Aung San Suu Kyi eighth conviction, sentencing her to further three years’ imprisonment with hard labour for “influencing electoral authorities”, bringing sentence to 22 years with nine further charges outstanding. Insein Prison Court same day sentenced former British Ambassador Vicky Bowman and husband Htein Lin, noted artist and former political prisoner, to one-year imprisonment with hard labour for violating immigration law. Leader Min Aung Hlaing 7 Sept met Russian President Putin during second visit to Russia in two months; Min Aung Hlaing praised Putin for turning Russia into “world powerhouse” as pair discussed potential cooperation on various sectors including banking, energy and aerospace.
Pakistani Taliban stepped up deadly attacks, killing several security forces personnel; political tensions remained dangerously elevated as former PM Khan continued to escalate rhetoric.
Pakistani Taliban launched deadly strikes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Despite “indefinite ceasefire” and ongoing negotiations between Pakistani Taliban and security forces, Pakistani Taliban claimed several deadly attacks: notably, three attacks on police 4 Sept, killing police constable in Lakki Marwat district; group stepped up strikes in Malakand division, where bomb 13 Sept killed eight people, including two police constables, and shooting 14 Sept killed local anti-Taliban leader. Rallies 15-16 Sept held against rising attacks in Malakand. Attack on convoy of leader of militant group Jamaat-ul-Ulema Islam 9 Sept left four police constables dead. Additionally, attacks by militants, including from Afghanistan, 13, 19 and 25 Sept killed eight Pakistani soldiers in Kurram, North Waziristan, Khyber and South Waziristan districts. Relations remained strained with Afghan Taliban govt as military and Taliban forces 14 Sept clashed at disputed border.
Political instability persisted as former PM Khan criticised govt and military. Khan sought to politicise appointment of new army chief ahead of Qamar Javed Bajwa’s retirement on 30 Nov. Khan 4 Sept accused PM Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and FM Bhutto’s Pakistan’s Peoples Party (PPP) of opposing snap elections in order to make own appointment to prevent “strong and patriotic” army head. Military next day said it was “aghast at the defamatory and uncalled for” statement. Khan 6 Sept doubled down, asserting “Thieves – Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari – cannot be allowed to pick the new army chief”; 10 Sept warned “people could take to the streets to hold peaceful protests or we will hold elections by force”, accused military intelligence of conspiring against his party’s coalition govt in Punjab, calling on his supporters to combat threats with counter-threats. Islamabad’s High Court 19 Sept ruled to remove anti-terrorism clauses in case against Khan and 22 Sept dismissed contempt of court case against him.
Flood fallout continued. With around 33mn citizens affected by floods and estimated total damage at over $30bn (10% of GDP), Sharif 23 Sept appealed for debt relief from creditors, citing “vast scale & extent of destruction”; floods had left about 16,000 killed as of 20 Sept.
Localised jihadist activity persisted in south, implementation of Peace Accord in Mindanao continued apace, and violence linked to communist insurgency left over dozen dead.
Jihadist violence persisted in Mindanao. Alleged Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) gunmen 15 Sept ambushed and killed three soldiers en route to infantry detachment on hill in Magcawa village in Al Barka town, Basilan province. Six ASG members 1 Sept surrendered to police in Jolo municipality, Sulu province. Eight Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters combatants 3 Sept surrendered to military in Rajah Buayan municipality, Maguindanao province. Two members of Ussam clan’s private militia 16 Sept surrendered in Bongao municipality, Tawi-Tawi province.
Implementation of Peace Accord in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region continued apace. Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) inaugurated new legislature. President Marcos Jr. 15 Sept attended inauguration of BTA parliament in Cotabato City, praising achievements of Bangsamoro Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim and asking parliament to pass crucial legislation “on fiscal policy… and to facilitate the conduct of the elections in the BARMM in 2025”. Plebiscite vote 17 Sept officially divided Maguindanao into Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur. Third phase of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) decommissioning 27 Sept resumed in Maguindanao; at least 5,500 combatants are scheduled to be decommissioned until end of 2022. Meanwhile, authorities continued reconstruction efforts in Marawi city. Lanao del Sur Provincial Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. 15 Sept said 95% of roads destroyed during 2017 Marawi siege had been rebuilt while reconstruction continued on some govt facilities; next day said residents refused to settle into govt-provided housing due to “substandard” construction. Lanao del Sur district Congressman Ziaur-Rahman Alonto Adiong 16 Sept said Marawi “is the longest calamity-stricken area in the country” amid ongoing rehabilitation.
Clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued. Violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north saw at least 17 combatant and civilian fatalities with one injured.
Tensions remained high as Philippines revealed it had filed numerous protests against China’s maritime incursions and Beijing expressed readiness to agree Code of Conduct.
Philippines revealed it had repeatedly protested Chinese maritime incursions in 2022. Manilla 8 Sept said it had filed 178 protests against Chinese incursion into territorial waters as of 31 Aug, including 48 since President Marcos Jr. took office on 30 June; incursions included illegal fishing, harassment of fisherman and unauthorised marine research.
Amid ongoing activity, China pledged support for finalising maritime Code of Conduct. Chinese FM Wang 20 Sept spoke to Vietnamese PM Pham Minh Chinh, affirmed China was ready to work with countries from South East Asia regional body ASEAN to reach early agreement on Code of Conduct in South China Sea (SCS). Philippine Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairwoman Senator Imee Marcos 14 Sepy suggested Code of Conduct should only be negotiated among claimant countries, instead of all ASEAN states, to speed up process. Australian Navy chief Mark Hammond 9 Sept said Australian warships were regularly shadowed by Chinese military vessels in SCS, describing behaviour as “unusual”.
U.S.-Philippines negotiations on security arrangements continued. Philippine Ambassador to U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez 5 Sept said in event of Taiwan conflict, Manila would only let U.S. forces use its military bases if conflict affected Philippines’ security; also said Manila and Washington were negotiating increase of bases available to U.S. forces under bilateral Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Philippine President Ferdinand Marco Jr. 22 Sept met U.S. President Biden at UN General Assembly, where pair pledged support for freedom of navigation and overflight.
Authorities struck preliminary deal to address worsening economic crisis amid food insecurity and continued crackdown on dissent, while UN rights body spotlighted govt’s poor record.
Amid dire economic conditions, govt struck initial deal with International Monetary Fund (IMF). In positive news, IMF 1 Sept announced long-awaited staff level agreement, enabling $2.9bn loan; dispersal of loan requires govt winning parliamentary approval for unpopular measures and securing debt relief from foreign govts and international bond holders, talks about which began 23 Sept. UN World Food Programme 12 Sept warned “food and nutrition security situation in Sri Lanka continues to deteriorate by the day’’, noting that based on surveys in June, 8.7m people (39.1% of population) did not have adequate diet, while one in every four households was reducing number of daily meals and 6.2m (28% of population) were estimated food insecure. Report flagged likelihood of further deterioration from Oct-Feb 2023, citing low crop yields.
Authorities continued crackdown on dissent and consolidated power. Police 10 Sept arrested prominent protest leader and authorities continued prosecutions of numerous others, including three student leaders detained last month under PTA. Authorities 24 Sept arrested 84 peaceful protesters, day after President Wickremesinghe invoked rarely-used Official Secrets Act to ban protests around key govt buildings covering large parts of capital Colombo; Bar Association and others denounced moved and immediately challenged it in court. Disgraced former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa 2 Sept returned to country after six weeks abroad. Wickremesinghe 8 Sept appointed 37 new ministers, mostly members of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and aligned parties.
Govt faced condemnation of rights record at UN Human Rights Council. In strongly worded report to Council on 6 Sept, UN High Commissioner criticised systematic impunity for human rights violations, failure to pursue effective transitional justice, militarisation of civilian administration, and ongoing surveillance, harassment and arbitrary arrests under draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), calling for moratorium on act’s use; for first time, report linked impunity and authoritarian governance with ongoing economic crisis. FM Ali Sabry 12 Sept rejected much of report and reiterated promise to replace PTA.
China maintained high-level of incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone, while U.S. continued to signal strong support to Taipei as President Biden vowed to aid island in event of attack.
China conducted daily aerial incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ). China dispatched 377 planes as of 21 Sept into Taiwan’s ADIZ; notably, 181 aircraft crossed unofficial demarcation known as median line, which has become near-daily routine since visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Aug. Chinese naval vessels were sighted 133 times in surrounding waters in Sept. Taiwan 1 Sept shot down Chinese civilian-operated drone in Kinmen county, off China’s Fujian province; Taiwanese military 5 Sept confirmed Chinese UAVs crossed median line for first time. U.S. and Canada 20 Sept held joint operation with destroyer USS Higgins and frigate HMCS Vancouver, transiting strait for second time in three weeks; China slammed exercise as provocative.
U.S. representatives continued visits, U.S. legislators approved new Taiwan act and President Biden vowed to defend island. Following Pelosi’s 2 Aug visit, U.S. engagement remained high. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey 1 Sept and Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy 8 Sept began visits. Five Taiwanese legislators 13 Sept visited U.S. capital for closed-door meetings with U.S. officials. Members of Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, hosted by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, 15 Sept called for greater support for Taiwan and expressed opposition to any unilateral change of status quo. U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee 15 Sept approved Taiwan Policy Act; Chairman Bob Menendez called it “most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. policy toward Taiwan since […] 1979”, with notable provisions including $6.5bn military aid to Taiwan through 2027; China same day said bill will “greatly shake the political foundation of China-U.S. relations” if passed. In fourth and clearest remark since assuming office, Biden 18 Sept said U.S. would defend Taiwan from any “unprecedented attack”. China 23 Sept accused U.S. of sending “very wrong, dangerous signals” during meeting with U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken, who same day affirmed “long-standing one-China policy”.
Pro-democracy demonstrators protested against govt as Constitutional Court ruled that PM Prayuth could remain in post, while attacks continued in deep south.
Amid anti-govt protests, court ruled PM Prayuth could stay in post. Pro-democracy protest group Kana Lomruam Prachachon 4 Sept held protest against govt involving hundreds in central Bangkok, following late Aug protests calling for resignations of Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan and Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda; protests developed amid PM Prayuth Chan-ocha’s suspension from PM’s duties in Aug pending outcome of case to determine when his term in office began. Constitutional Court 30 Sept ruled that Prayuth could remain PM as his eight-year term limit began with promulgation of constitution in April 2017.
Curtailment of peaceful dissent continued. Bangkok court 12 Sept sentenced political activist Jatuporn “New” Saeoueng under lèse-majesté law to two years prison for insulting monarchy by allegedly impersonating queen at 2020 protest.
In deep south, insurgent attacks continued. Gunmen on motorcycles 12 Sept killed elderly rubber tapper couple in Muang district, Yala province. IED 20 Sept targeting police patrol detonated in front of hospital in Mai Kaen district, Pattani province, killing one police officer and wounding four others.
Clashes erupted along border with Azerbaijan, marking deadliest escalation since 2020 war as fighting spilled deeper into Armenian territory; fighting could escalate once more as negotiating positions harden.
Renewed hostilities with Azerbaijan killed hundreds. Clashes 13 Sept erupted along border with Azerbaijan, marking deadliest violence between two countries since six-week war in 2020. Sides blamed each other for renewed fighting; defence ministry 13 Sept said Azerbaijani forces shelled 200km stretch of southern border in Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces, attacking civilian and military infrastructure in “unprovoked aggression” and moving deep inside Armenian territory; Baku same day rejected characterisation, saying its forces took action to prevent Armenian “saboteurs” from mining supply roads on border near Azerbaijani army positions. PM Pashinyan 14 Sept said Azerbaijani army had taken control of at least 10 sq km of Armenian territory. Yerevan and Baku 14 Sept issued statements committing to ceasefire, although both countries 14, 21, 23, 24, 28 Sept accused each other of violating it. Fighting in two days killed at least 207 Armenian and 80 Azerbaijani soldiers; Yerevan 19 Sept said four Armenian civilians were killed and that authorities had been forced to evacuate over 2,700 civilians from Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces. Addressing UN General Assembly (UNGA), PM Pashinyan 22 Sept said threat of new offensive remained “very high” and “Azerbaijan intends to occupy more territories of Armenia”.
Clashes prompted flurry of diplomatic activity. Before fragile ceasefire was announced, Russia, U.S., EU and France 13 Sept called for peace and restraint, with Moscow announcing it had brokered ceasefire, though fighting persisted into following day. In rare show of unity, UN Security Council members 15 Sept condemned violence and urged talks. On sidelines of UNGA, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 19 Sept brought together both Armenian and Azerbaijani FMs, urging “strong, sustainable diplomatic engagement” to reinforce fragile ceasefire. In less measured response, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed Azerbaijani forces for “illegal and deadly attacks on Armenian territory” during visit to Yerevan day before; Baku 18 Sept said Pelosi’s “groundless” accusations dealt blow to peace efforts.
Clashes erupted along border with Armenia, marking deadliest escalation since 2020 war as fighting spilled deeper into Armenian territory; fighting could escalate once more as negotiating positions harden.
Renewed hostilities with Armenia killed hundreds. Clashes 13 Sept erupted along border with Armenia, marking deadliest violence between two countries since six-week war in 2020. Sides blamed each other for renewed fighting; Armenian defence ministry 13 Sept said Azerbaijani forces shelled 200km stretch of southern border in Armenia’s Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces, attacking civilian and military infrastructure in “unprovoked aggression” and moving deep inside Armenian territory; Baku same day rejected characterisation, saying its forces took action to prevent Armenian “saboteurs” from mining supply roads on border near Azerbaijani army positions. Armenian PM Pashinyan 14 Sept said Azerbaijani army had taken control of at least 10 sq km of Armenian territory. Yerevan and Baku 14 Sept issued statements committing to ceasefire, although both countries 14, 21, 23, 24, 28 Sept accused each other of violating it. Fighting in two days killed at least 207 Armenian and 80 Azerbaijani soldiers; Yerevan 19 Sept said four Armenian civilians were killed and that authorities had been forced to evacuate over 2,700 civilians from Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces. Addressing UN General Assembly (UNGA), Pashinyan 22 Sept said threat of new offensive remained “very high” and that “Azerbaijan intends to occupy more territories of Armenia”.
Clashes prompted flurry of diplomatic activity. Before fragile ceasefire was announced, Russia, U.S., EU and France 13 Sept called for peace and restraint, with Moscow announcing it had brokered ceasefire, though fighting persisted into following day. In rare show of unity, UN Security Council members 15 Sept condemned violence and urged talks. On sidelines of UNGA, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 19 Sept brought together both countries’ FMs, urging “strong, sustainable diplomatic engagement” to reinforce fragile ceasefire. In less measured response, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi day blamed Azerbaijani forces for “illegal and deadly attacks on Armenian territory” during visit to Yerevan day before; Baku 18 Sept said Pelosi’s “groundless” accusations dealt blow to peace efforts.
President Lukashenko denied rumours of mobilisation to support Russia’s war efforts, crackdown on opposition continued.
Army conducted military exercises, Lukashenko dismissed mobilisation rumours. Defence ministry 8 Sept announced military drills near border with Poland, which lasted until 14 Sept. Following Russia’s partial military mobilisation over war in Ukraine (see Russia) and subsequent rumours of similar measures in Belarus, Lukashenko 23 Sept clarified that “there will be no mobilisation”.
Crackdown on opposition continued. Court in Minsk 5 Sept sentenced five people – including U.S. citizen Yuras Zyankovich – to between 2.5 and 11 years in prison for attempting to seize power through assassination of Lukashenko; Zyankovich was also found guilty of creating extremist group. Court 16 Sept sentenced Syarhey Kanavalau to 15 years in prison for damaging railways that supply weapons and troops for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
U.S. lifted decades-old armed embargo on Republic of Cyprus, prompting Turkish condemnation and vow to bolster Turkish military presence on island.
Washington announced lifting of long-held arms embargo on Republic of Cyprus. U.S. 16 Sept announced it would fully lift – initially for one year – arms embargo on Republic of Cyprus in place since 1987, saying “Republic of Cyprus has met the necessary conditions under relevant legislation”. In line with U.S. requirements, Republic of Cyprus had put in place in recent years several financial regulatory oversight mechanisms and denied Russian military vessels access to ports, among other conditions.
Ankara strongly criticised U.S. and pledged greater military support for Turkish Cypriots. Turkish foreign ministry 16 Sept harshly reacted to U.S. move, saying it would “further strengthen the Greek Cypriot side’s intransigence and negatively affect efforts to resettle the Cyprus issue” as well as “lead to an arms race on the island”. Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu 29 Sept said: “We will send more forces there to protect the Turkish Cypriots and we will meet whatever they need in terms of weapons”, while Turkish President Erdoğan same day said Türkiye would reinforce its 40,000 troops on island with additional weapons, ammunition and vehicles. Meanwhile, unconfirmed news reports 20 Sept surfaced that Russia was intending to start direct flights to Ercan airport located in Turkish Cypriot north of island.
Debate over potential military operation in breakaway territories prompted pushback, Belarusian president travelled to Abkhazia to strengthen cooperation, and authorities curtailed political freedoms.
Opposition raised idea of “military operation” in breakaway territories, ruling party rejected it. Russian losses in Ukraine during Sept (see Ukraine) raised tensions between ruling Georgian Dream party and several opposition leaders after latter mid Sept said country should capitalise on Russia’s weakened position and launch military operation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia breakaway territories. Ruling party Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze 7 Sept had rejected idea of opening “second front” against Russia (Russia recognises breakaways as independent states and is responsible for providing military support and security to both entities) but floated idea of referendum on issue. In response, Abkhazia’s de facto FM Inal Ardzinba 15 Sept organised public discussion with local representatives to voice concerns about “forces aimed at diverting Russia’s military and economic resources away from Donbas”; also drew attention to Georgia’s military exercises with NATO, saying likelihood of Georgia initiating military operation in Abkhazia was “quite high”, pointing to Kobakhidze’s referendum suggestion; Kobakhidze same day denied plans for war were being considered.
Belarusian President Lukashenko visited Abkhazia for first time since taking office. In first visit to breakaway territory as president, Lukashenko 28 Sept met with Abkhazia’s de facto leader Aslan Bzhania and other senior officials in Bichvinta town to discuss bilateral cooperation and international security. Lukashenko said “we must strengthen relations with friends” otherwise “we will not be allowed to live in peace”, but stopped short of explicitly promising recognition.
Authorities passed laws restricting freedoms, compromising prospects for EU candidacy status. Amendments to first law, adopted 6 Sept, strengthen security service’s ability to use covert surveillance measures on civilians; President Salome Zourabichvili had vetoed bill in June and 1 Sept reiterated that it was “not in line with securing human rights”. Amendments to second law, adopted 9 Sept, modified selection rules for public defender, reducing opposition’s influence over candidate’s selection. Amendments, which followed EU’s June decision to condition candidate status on fulfilling “outstanding priorities” regarding political polarisation, judicial system, human rights and anti-corruption, appeared to challenge prospects for candidacy status.
President announced snap presidential elections and changes to term limits for future incumbents; country welcomed almost 100,000 Russians fleeing President Putin’s mobilisation order.
President declared early presidential elections and changes to presidential term. President Tokayev 1 Sept called for snap elections in coming months, when he will seek second term, and parliamentary elections early 2023, arguing that such measures would enable “fundamental and comprehensive reforms”. Tokayev also proposed changing presidential term from five to seven years, preventing future incumbents from seeking second term, in order to “reduce the risks of monopolisation of power”. Following approval from lower chamber of parliament on 16 Sept, Tokayev 17 Sept signed legislation enshrining one seven-year presidential term. He also approved change of capital name from Nur-Sultan back to Astana, in move likely aimed at further distancing himself from his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbaev.
Almost 100,000 Russians fleeing Putin’s mobilisation order crossed into Kazakhstan. Following Putin’s partial mobilisation order for war in Ukraine (see Russia and Ukraine) on 21 Sept, officials 27 Sept said around 98,000 Russians had arrived in Kazakhstan. Tokayev same day urged tolerance, saying “we must take care of them and ensure their safety. It is a political and a humanitarian issue”.
Kosovo French and German leaders urged compromise over normalisation with Serbia, tensions over license plate dispute persisted.
Diplomatic efforts to sustain Belgrade-Pristina dialogue continued. After govt reached agreement with Serbia late Aug allowing border crossings with existing ID cards, French President Macron and German Chancellor Scholz 4 Sept asked PM Albin Kurti and Serbian President Vučić to prepare for compromise in Serb-Kosovar normalisation. In positive development, Kosovar deputy PM and education minister 5 Sept visited southern Serbia, while Serbian PM Ana Brnabic 6 Sept visited northern Kosovo with message of “peace, stability and tolerance”.
Tensions over license plate dispute persisted. Amid govt’s 31 Oct deadline for switch of all Serbia-registered vehicles to temporary Republic of Kosovo plates, assailants 20 Sept set fire to Kosovo Serb police officer’s car for displaying Kosovo-issued license plates. Interior Minister Xhelal Sveçla same day blamed “illegal structures”, allegedly supported by Vučić, for attacks and accused Vučić of trying “to intimidate Serb citizens living in Kosovo”. NATO Mission in Kosovo 22 Sept announced arrival of reserve troops “as part of normal contingency planning” amid heightened concerns as deadline nears, added that “other reserves” could arrive if required.
Violence erupted along disputed border with Tajikistan, killing almost 100 people and displacing thousands.
Fierce fighting flared along disputed part of Kyrgyz-Tajik border. Clashes 14 Sept erupted between Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards, killing at least two. Sides exchanged blame for flare-up; Kyrgyz guards accused Tajikistan of assuming military positions on part of border not yet demarcated, while Tajikistan said Kyrgyz guards had opened fire without provocation. President Japarov and Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon 16 Sept announced ceasefire agreement on sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, said they had ordered troop withdrawal. However, violence same day erupted again, marking deadliest escalation since conflict in April 2021 claimed 55 lives. Sides accused each other of breaching ceasefire and of using heavy weaponry including tanks, rocket artillery and assault drones to attack outposts and nearby settlements. Notably, Tajikistan accused Kyrgyzstan of firing toward Ovchi-Kalacha and Bobojon settlements in Gafurov district, and Vorukh and Chorkuh settlements near Isfara city. Kyrgyz border services, meanwhile, said Tajik forces “renewed gunfire at Kyrgyz border guards’ positions” in Kulundu and Jany-Jer settlements in Leilek district and attacked positions in Batken district, which lies 10km from border, signalling spread of hostilities deeper into Kyrgyzstan. Countries 16 Sept signed second ceasefire, after which sides 16-17 Sept reported sporadic shelling but no major incidents. Hostilities killed around 100 people, including at least 37 civilians. Authorities 18 Sept said they had evacuated 137,000 people from conflict area, 19 Sept said homes in Ak-Sai village (Leilek district) were deliberately burned and pillaged. Tajik authorities same day said civilian homes in Tajikistan were also burned, although there were no reported evacuation efforts.
Moscow urged “peaceful” resolution and offered to help stabilise border. According to Kyrgyz authorities, situation on border 18 Sept remained “tense” but “appeared to be stabilising”. Russian President Putin same day spoke with Tajik and Kyrgyz leaders, urging sides to “prevent further escalation and to take measures to resolve the situation exclusively by peaceful, political and diplomatic means”, highlighting “Russia’s readiness to provide the necessary assistance to ensure stability in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border region”. Both countries 25 Sept reached agreement to demilitarise conflict-affected section of border.
As thousands of protesters called for president’s resignation, speculation mounted over possible Russian involvement.
Opposition-led protests against escalatory prices amid Ukraine war spread. Thousands of protesters 9, 18 and 25 Sept took to streets denouncing high inflation and soaring fuel prices in wake of Ukraine war; also demanded resignation of President Maia Sandu and her govt, which has promised to secure EU membership and crackdown on corruption since 2020 electoral victory, and early parliamentary elections. Populist opposition party Sor organised demonstrations; party is led by MP, businessman and fugitive Ilan Shor, sentenced in 2017 for money laundering and large-scale banking fraud. MPs from Sor Party 9 Sept met Chairman of Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky in Moscow. Slutsky 24 Sept called Ilan Shor and Sor Party Russia’s “reliable partners”, prompting many to speculate about Kremlin’s possible role in protests to help destabilise country.