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 two conflict risks and one conflict resolution opportunity in May.
CrisisWatch also highlights deteriorations in two countries in April.
Last, our conflict tracker welcomes improvements in five countries in April.
Aside from the scores of conflict situations we usually assess, we track notable developments in: Benin, Ecuador, and the Solomon Islands.
Our CrisisWatch Digests for Ethiopia, Lebanon and Somalia 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:
View the April 2022 CrisisWatch Digest on Ethiopia here.
View the April 2022 CrisisWatch Digest on Lebanon here.
View the April 2022 CrisisWatch Digest on Somalia here.
Deadly jihadist attacks and counter-insurgency operations continued in north; military junta announced local-level talks with jihadist groups and requested more time from West Africa regional bloc to finalise transition timetable. Jihadist violence increased in Centre-North region from late March. Presumed al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants overnight 31 March-1 April killed 20 civilians in Namentenga province and 8 April attacked military detachment, killing 12 soldiers and four volunteers fighting alongside security forces in Sanmatenga province. Residents of Bourzanga town (Bam province, also Centre-North), where jihadists established presence in March, early April said town running out of supplies. In Sahel region (north), military in cooperation with Nigerien forces 2-25 April conducted airstrikes and ground offensives against both JNIM and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, claimed about 100 combatants killed and 40 detained; local sources said most killed were civilians, which defence ministry 24 April denied. Coordinated jihadist attacks on two military detachments 24 April killed nine soldiers and six civilians in Pobé-Mengao department (Soum province, also Sahel). Suspected jihadists 26 April reportedly opened fire on civilians near Markoye town (Oudalan province, Sahel), killing 13. Amid mounting public pressure to address insecurity, President Lt Col Damiba 1 April announced dialogue with jihadists, with aim of “integrating Burkinabe youth from these groups back into society”; Council of Ministers 13 April created commission coordinating local dialogue committees. Interim govt 15 April announced recruitment, training and deployment of 3,000 additional soldiers by May. Deposed President Kaboré released from house arrest 6 April. Military junta 22 April requested more time to finalise “acceptable transition timetable” ahead of West African regional body ECOWAS 25 April deadline; ECOWAS 27 April announced it would send mission to country to determine next steps. Ouagadougou military court 6 April sentenced former President Compaoré to life imprisonment for 1987 murder of then-President Sankara. Sankara’s relatives and several civil society groups immediately welcomed trial’s outcome, with Thomas Sankara Memorial Committee hailing it as “great victory”; former National Reconciliation Minister Zephirin Diabré 10 April however said Compaoré’s conviction could be obstacle to future national reconciliation.
Jihadist violence persisted in Mopti region amid national and international outcry over alleged “massacre” of hundreds of civilians at hands of govt and Russian forces; EU suspended in-country training missions. Army 1 April said military 23-31 March “neutralised” over 200 jihadists in major operation in Moura town (Djenné district) in central Mopti region. Several media and rights groups however accused govt forces and allies of “massacre”. Notably, NGO Human Rights Watch 5 April said army and foreign fighters, identified as Russians, late March “allegedly summarily executed” 300 civilian men in Moura town, urged “independent, credible inquiry”. UN envoy in Mali El-Ghassim Wane 7 April told Security Council military govt had denied request to grant UN mission investigators access to site; Bamako same day announced military tribunal would handle investigation. Meanwhile, violence continued in Mopti. Notably, explosive device attack by suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 19 April killed Russian paramilitary near Hombori village (Douentza district); in apparent retaliation, govt forces and Russian private military company Wagner Group elements same day reportedly stormed Hombori. Armed forces reported air strikes 14 April killed 12 militants, including Franco-Tunisian JNIM leader Samir Al-Bourhan, in Ganguel forest, and overnight 27-28 April killed 12 other combatants near Yirma village, both Djenné district. Simultaneous jihadist attacks 24 April also targeted military camps in Sévaré (Mopti region), Bapho and Niono towns (Ségou region), leaving six soldiers dead. JNIM 24 April claimed it had captured Wagner operatives during first week of April in central Ségou region. Junta continued to take increasingly harsh line on political opposition: authorities 4 April allegedly sought to arrest opposition leader Oumar Mariko after he publicly accused army of killing civilians in Moura. Amid rumours of govt reshuffle and internal conflicts within PM Choguel Maïga’s support base, Maïga 21 April presented transitional govt’s activities to legislative body National Transitional Council, emphasised 24-month transition timeline and praised army’s recent advances. Thousands 1 April demonstrated in capital Bamako against French presence and West African bloc ECOWAS’ sanctions. Following year-long tensions between Bamako and Brussels, EU 11 April announced full suspension of EUCAP and EUTM missions in Mali.
Rival jihadist factions engaged in major clashes in Diffa region, parliament authorised relocation of foreign troops from Mali to Niger, and authorities arrested sitting minister and other govt officials as part of anti-corruption campaign. In Diffa region (south east), infighting between two subgroups of Boko Haram faction known as JAS 4 April left over 60 dead around Bosso commune, on islands shared between countries of Lake Chad basin; JAS 9-10 April clashed with rival group Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in Bosso commune, with at least 14 dead. ISWAP reportedly claimed executing 11 Christians after capturing them in Diffa region 22-26 April. Amid lower jihadist activity in Tillabery region (south west), suspected jihadists 12 April killed seven police officers and wounded over a dozen in attack on police station near Burkina Faso border in Bankilaré department. As part of 2-25 April joint operation with Burkinabè forces along shared border, govt forces reportedly killed numerous suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants in Torodi department. In Agadez region (north), attacks by unidentified assailants 8 and 12 April left six soldiers dead. As part of ongoing military operations across country, 54 suspected jihadists reportedly killed 26 March-2 April in Dosso, Tahoua, Tillabery, and Diffa regions; and 37 militants killed 5 April in joint operation with neighbouring Benin and Burkina Faso in tri-border area. National Assembly 22 April voted to allow redeployment from Mali to Niger of French Barkhane and European Takuba troops. Authorities 8 April arrested former Interior Minister Ousmane Cissé on accusations of involvement in alleged coup attempts in 2021 and during President Bazoum’s visit to Turkey in March. Bazoum next day announced arrests of 30 senior govt officials as part of anti-corruption drive; authorities around 19 April also arrested Communication Minister Mahamadou Zada on embezzlement charges in first-ever arrest of minister in office.
Army killed several suspected separatists in anglophone region amid major cholera outbreak in area’s south east; meanwhile, security forces launched operation in east to free hostages. Separatist attacks continued against civilians in Northwest (NW) and Southwest (SW) anglophone regions. Notably, separatists 7 April kidnapped dozen protesters in Mbalangi, near Kumba (SW) town and Oku (NW) subdivision; 12 April ambushed and killed five penitentiary officers in Nkum town, Bui division (NW). Authorities 8 April also stated armed men torched dozen homes and killed six people in Mbonhong village, Ndu district (NW) targeting Mbororo ethnic group, who they blamed for earlier attacks in community; in response, soldiers 26 April killed six attackers. Military raid against separatists in Bali town (NW) 21 April left three civilians dead. In Mbalangi, near Kumba (SW) and Jakiri (NW) towns, angry mobs 5 April killed three separatists accused of rape and other violence. Soldiers 25 April killed eight men in Guzang, Batibo town, who they accused of being separatists. Cholera outbreak, which started in Oct 2021, continued to take heavy toll on anglophone region’s south west, with about 50 per cent of all 4,627 cholera cases across country recorded there as of 5 April; Meme and Ndian divisions (SW) and Littoral were most affected areas due to worsening pre-existing water crisis and enduring armed conflict. After years of campaigning by Anglophones and dozens of civil society groups, U.S. administration 15 April granted Temporary Protected Status to Cameroonian migrants, allowing 18-month stay until individual status is determined. Meanwhile, in east, military 18 April sent hundreds of troops to border Mbere division near Central African Republic, where rebels had abducted at least 35 people; operation left two dead and five hostages freed. In Northeast, Boko Haram jihadists 2 April killed two civilians in Doulong Touro village, Mayo Tsanaga division; 29 April reportedly abducted at least 14 people in Bargaram locality, Logone-et-Chari department. Regional Multinational Joint Task Force 1 May reported killing at least 20 suspected jihadists during operation in Nigeria and Cameroon 27-29 April. Cameroon 12 April signed military deal with Russia, renewing cooperation.
Rebels continued deadly attacks outside capital Bangui, govt forces and Russian paramilitary faced more accusations of serious crimes, and intercommunal violence rose in west and centre. Rebel groups launched attacks across country. Notably, Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central African Republic (FPRC) rebel group 1-2 April attacked villages in Bakouma sub-prefecture (Mbomou prefecture, south east), leaving at least five civilians dead; Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) rebel coalition allegedly attacked NGO personnel in Basse-Koto prefecture (east), injuring four 7 April and another two 9 April; and 3R rebel group 16 April and 19 April clashed with govt forces and Wagner paramilitaries in Amada-Gaza sub-prefecture (Mambéré-Kadéï prefecture, east), causing ten deaths among rebels according to local authorities. Meanwhile, Bangui 4 April rejected accusations made by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet late March of human rights violations, including torture and sexual violence, by security forces and Russian paramilitary Wagner Group, claimed report was meant to tarnish military’s image. Security forces and Wagner personnel 11-12 April reportedly killed over ten civilians in Gordil and Ndah villages (Vakaga prefecture, east); UN mission (MINUSCA) 16 April launched investigation into incident. Video allegedly showing soldiers torturing and executing man which had surfaced on social media in Jan, mid-month prompted outcry among opposition and human rights groups, while govt denounced smearing campaign. Communal violence spiked during month. Notably, herders 2 April attacked Samoh village (Ouham prefecture, centre), reportedly in retaliation for cattle theft, leaving five dead; clashes between Fulani herders (supported by 3R group) and local tradesmen early April left six dead in Gadzi sub-prefecture (Mambéré-Kadéï, south west); and anti-balaka militia attack on Fulani herders 8-10 April reportedly left around ten dead in Zawa village (Nana-Mambéré, west). Political tensions stayed high after March dialogue, as govt supporters continued to call for constitutional revision to allow third presidential term; notably online petition by Héritier Doneng, sports minister’s chief of staff and head of Republican Front movement, 20 April reportedly reached 400,034 signatures. First audience of hybrid Special Criminal Court mandated with adjudicating serious crimes committed in country since 2003, postponed 19 April to 25 April after defence lawyers failed to show up; later delayed to 16 May.
Pre-dialogue with armed groups in Qatar continued, civil society coalition withdrew from national dialogue initiative, and land dispute killed one in south. Pre-dialogue between Transitional Military Council (CMT) and 52 Chadian politico-military movements continued in Qatari capital Doha despite mistrust toward transitional authorities. CMT and other groups 14 April exchanged draft protocols on final agreement, including proposals on ceasefire, release of prisoners of war, and disarmament, demobilisation, reinsertion program. Armed groups 14 April subsequently expressed discontent at CMT’s proposition. Major rebel group Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic (CCMSR) 5 April withdrew from talks, denouncing transitional authorities’ hidden agenda. Preparations for national dialogue planned on 10 May faced further hurdles as civil society coalition Wakit Tama 6 April suspended talks with CMT about conditions for dialogue participation, citing transitional authorities’ “duplicity” and announcing “major actions” in response. Following CMT mid-month confirmation dialogue would go forward despite pre-dialogue with armed groups’ slow pace, groups and opposition expressed doubts about CMT’s good-will and dialogue’s inclusivity. Amid growing scepticism about transitional authorities’ sincerity and rising fears they will cling to power, transitional President Mahamat Déby named his half-brother Abdelkérim Déby as presidential chief of staff after former Minister Abdoulaye Sabre Fadoul 5 April resigned from position citing “institutional and interpersonal” reasons. Former President Idriss Déby’s Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) political party 18-20 April held event for anniversary of Déby’s death, criticised transitional authorities for not organising official commemoration. Judges 11 April suspended March’s strike order until 6 May to give govt chance to accede to their demands for more security for members of judiciary. Meanwhile, land dispute 7 April sparked clashes between Migami and Dadjo communities in Dokatchi village (Guéra prefecture, Guéra region), leaving one dead and 14 injured.
Imbonerakure harassed civilians, intelligence services reportedly abducted opposition supporter, and security operations against RED-Tabara rebel movement continued. Ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure continued to target civilians. During CNDD-FDD sec gen’s visit to Rumonge commune, Imbonerakure 2 April harassed and beat up local fruit vendors. Clashes between opposition party Congrès National pour la Liberté (CNL) and Imbonerakure 13 April left CNL member severely injured in Mpanda commune, Bubanza province, prompting arrest of 14 CNL members in Mpanda 16-17 April. Authorities 16 April launched national campaign to provide paramilitary training to at least 6,000 Imbonerakure, with view to potentially create Force de réserve et d’appui au développement du pays (FRAD), new reserve military force composed of civilians; first batch of 300 Imbonerakure 16 April completed training in Makamba province. Meanwhile, families accused intelligence service of arresting four people whom they suspected of collaborating with armed groups in Ndava commune, Cankuzo province, 31 March; intelligence services 7 April also allegedly kidnapped CNL member in Cibitoke province. Police collaborating with locals 3 April found two unidentified, tied-up bodies in Buganda commune, Cibitoke province; 8 April found another corpse in Buruhukiro zone, Rumonge commune. Concerns over economic situation rose, primarily in Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces (north west), where rise in commodity prices and fuel shortages paralysed fishing. Armed forces continued to fight RED-Tabara rebel movement, Tutsi-led group that opposes country’s Hutu-dominated govt, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Notably, soldiers and their allies, mai mai rebels, 13 April killed Congolese soldier and stole around 400 cows from local farmers in Mutarule, Uvira territory, South Kivu, DRC; around 90 additional Burundian soldiers 15 April crossed into South Kivu.
Amid ongoing violence from armed groups, regional leaders pledged to launch joint force to tackle M23 threat in country’s east. Violence continued to run high in east. Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) launched attacks in Irumu territory. Notably, alleged ADF 8 April killed eight in Pakulu village; ADF rebels 10-11 April killed at least 20 in Basili Chiefdom villages; alleged ADF 10 April killed nine in Shauri Moya locality, while four others found dead next day. Locals 11 April found 11 bodies in Mangusu village, 5km from Komanda locality where ADF reportedly killed at least 18 others same day. Four civilians died in alleged ADF attack in Otomabere village 16 April. In North Kivu province, ADF 4 April reportedly killed 29 people, including army captain, in Masambo village, Beni territory. Congolese operations continued as security forces alongside UN mission to DR Congo 19 April overtook key ADF base in Irumu’s Mont Oyo zone. Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) rebels 15 April decapitated five civilians in Ndjala village, Djugu territory. Following M23 rebels late-March offensive against army at border with Rwanda and Uganda, rebels 1 April, and again 10 April declared unilateral ceasefire; M23 rebels and army however accused each other of ongoing violence during month and heavy clashes 27 April resumed with army accusing rebels of provoking them. East African Community (EAC) representatives 21 April agreed to deploy joint military force to address threats from local armed groups in Eastern DRC; move follows DRC’s formal adhesion to EAC 8 April. State of siege 19 April renewed despite opposition from deputies from east. Deputies from parliamentary group Common Front for Congo (FCC), which is closely aligned with former President Kabila, 14 April boycotted National Assembly plenary session on reforms to new 2023 electoral law, prompting Assembly President Christophe Mboso to postpone plenary discussion to 20 April; debate on law 22 April resumed, albeit without FCC deputies. After Court of Cassation 11 April overturned Court of Appeal’s decision that sentenced Vital Kamerhe, Tshisekedi’s former chief of staff, to 13 years of hard labour for corruption and embezzlement, Kamerhe, 18 April returned to Kinshasa.
Allegations that late parliament speaker was poisoned caused tensions, commodity prices rose markedly, and security operation against cattle-rustling in Karamoja continued. Following death of Parliament Speaker and Omoro county MP Jacob Oulanyah in March, Electoral Commission 9 April set timetable for by-election to fill vacant seat, with planned vote on 26 May. Oulanyah’s family 8 April announced son Andrew Ojok would run; during meeting convened by President Museveni, National Resistance Movement (NRM) party chairman, four NRM hopefuls 19 April agreed to step down in favour of Ojok. Following allegations from Oulanyah’s father Nathan Okori and NRM Vice Chairman for Buganda region Godfrey Kiwanda that Oulanyah was poisoned, police late March opened investigation and 11 April announced it was preparing summons including for Okori, Kiwanda and opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine; govt maintained Oulanyah died from cancer. Museveni 15 April announced meeting of NRM caucus to discuss rising commodity prices; 26 April convened meeting, during which they agreed not to intervene with incentives or other measures, said that it could otherwise destabilise country. Meanwhile, in restive Karamoja region, army 14 April reportedly killed local council leader who was suspected of leading cattle raids in Napak district; army late March said it had killed 309 people in operation against cattle rustlers since July, prompting opposition Forum for Democratic Change 4 April to request that govt investigate alleged civilian deaths during military operation. Rwandan President Kagame 24 April arrived in Uganda on “private visit” in first trip to country in four years to attend Museveni’s son Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s birthday party, and met president to discuss regional security.
Govt downgraded diplomatic mission to Ethiopia in sign that bilateral relations may be souring. After Ethiopian PM Abiy 24 March declared humanitarian ceasefire for Tigray region, local media early April reported Asmara 30 March downgraded diplomatic mission to Ethiopia, replacing outgoing Ambassador Semere Russom with Chargé d’Affaires Biniam Berhe. Asmara yet to accept letter of credence from newly appointed Ethiopian ambassador to Eritrea, Fekadu Beyene. Meanwhile, violence against Eritrean refugees in northern Ethiopia continued: six unidentified gunmen 2 April raided Dabat refugee camp in Amhara region, injuring eight Eritrean refugees. High-level govt delegation 11 April visited Sudan, met with Sovereign Council head Gen Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan and expressed solidarity with latter’s “efforts to overcome the ongoing crisis”; 16 April presented peace initiative to end Sudanese crisis, which Sovereign Council next day welcomed. FM Osman Saleh 27-28 April travelled to Russia, met with counterpart Sergey Lavrov, reportedly called on Russia and Ukraine “to find bilateral solution to their conflict”.
While fragile truce between federal govt and Tigray forces held, humanitarian aid to embattled region remained grossly insufficient; elsewhere, religious tensions flared and other violence continued. No clashes reported in April in northern Tigray region after federal and Tigray authorities late March agreed to humanitarian truce. For first time since Dec 2021, aid convoys 1, 2 April entered Tigray by land; another convoy of 50 trucks 15 April arrived in regional capital Mekelle after Tigray forces 12 April withdrew from Erebti district in Afar region. World Health Organization 18 April said only 4% of required aid had reached Tigray since truce. More truck convoys later mid- to late-April reached Mekelle, but deliveries by month’s end remained far from sufficient to meet needs. Tigray forces 25 April said they were completely withdrawing from Afar in hope aid could finally pour into Tigray; federal govt 28 April rebutted claims as “big lies”. In joint report, NGOs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch 6 April alleged Amhara regional authorities and security forces, with possible participation of federal soldiers, carried out “ethnic cleansing” campaign in Western Tigray from Nov 2020, systematically expelling several hundred thousand Tigrayans. Meanwhile, religious tensions spiked. Armed assailants 26 April attacked Muslim worshippers in Gondar city, Amhara; attack and subsequent unrest left 21 dead. Retaliatory attacks against Orthodox and Protestant Christians reported 28 April in Werabe town, Southern Nations region; casualties unknown. Also in Amhara, clashes in border area between Jille Dhumuga district in Oromia Zone and Efrata Gidim district in North Shewa Zone around 18-19 April reportedly left 20 dead, over 5,000 displaced; Amhara region officials accused Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebel group of initiating violence, while ethnic Oromo residents blamed Amhara militias known as Fano, and regional special forces. In Oromia region, federal govt forces along with Oromia regional forces early April launched renewed offensive against OLA: intense fighting reported 2-3 April along highway connecting Hawassa city to Ethiopia-Kenya border town of Moyale; violence throughout month persisted in Oromia’s North, West and South West Shewa zones, also Horo Guduru Wollega, West and East Guji zones, with all conflict actors reportedly targeting civilians.
Political parties held chaotic primaries ahead of August general elections as supporters disrupted voting to denounce methods used for selecting candidates and voting irregularities. Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) primaries sparked infighting: party supporters 1 April protested in Mombasa county over alleged issuance of direct tickets to certain candidates, prompting party to postpone primaries in Kilifi and Mombasa counties. Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) primaries also marred by tensions: unidentified individuals in Kangaru town, Embu county, 13 April burnt ballot boxes and ransacked lorry carrying ballot material, while candidates in Bomet county next day urged vote suspension, claiming some ballots were pre-marked. All primaries however finalised by 22 April deadline. In other incidents of political violence, crowd 1 April stoned helicopter carrying ODM presidential candidate Odinga in Uasin Gishu county; unidentified assailants 3 April killed businessman and aspiring member of County Assembly Thomas Okari in Kisii county; gunmen 6 April reportedly attacked rally of Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen in Kapetwa area, injuring two. Meanwhile, violence related to cattle raiding, land and pasture access continued in Isiolo, Marsabit, Baringo, West Pokot, Turkana and Garissa counties. Notably, in Isiolo, armed individuals 8 and 18 April killed 14 people in Burat area and Tigania village. Unidentified gunmen 28 April killed at least five people including local govt officials who were pursuing stolen cattle in Awaye area, Marsabit. World Food Programme 19 April said severe drought has left over 3mn Kenyans acutely food insecure. Following arrears in govt subsidies for oil companies amid global fuel price increases, fuel shortages throughout month led to petrol rationing and hours-long queues at petroleum retails stations across country.
Election process made significant progress as both houses of parliament selected speakers, paving way for presidential vote; Al-Shabaab attacks continued; and UN agencies warned of risk of famine. In major step forward for electoral cycle, approximately 290 out of 329 members of parliament sworn in 14 April, meeting PM Mohamed Hussein Roble’s deadline. Swearing in took place after Roble 5 April removed two federal electoral body officials who opposed his actions, and 13 April found last-minute agreement on some disputed seats with South West state President Abdiaziz Laftagareen. Dispute over selection of Lower House seats representing Jubaland’s Gedo region led to parallel elections around 22-23 April: 16 lawmakers selected in Ceel Waaq city with support from Roble; another set of 16 MPs selected in Garbaharey city with support from President Farmajo. Selection of parliament leadership went ahead despite concerns over security and location of vote: Senator Abdi Hashi Abdullahi re-elected 26 April as Upper House Speaker, while Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nur (Madobe) 28 April became Lower House Speaker. AU Transition Mission (ATMIS) got off to bumpy start: after mission 1 April officially began operations, taking over from AMISOM, Roble 6 April declared mission’s head Francisco Madeira persona non grata, accusing him of “engaging in acts that are incompatible with his status”; Farmajo immediately challenged move. Al-Shabaab conducted several attacks in capital Mogadishu, notably firing mortar shells at complex hosting parliament during 14 April swearing-in ceremony; group 18 April again targeted complex during parliamentary meeting; suicide attack at popular restaurant 22 April killed at least six. In Hirshabelle state in centre, Al-Shabaab continued to demonstrate its presence in Hiraan region, temporarily seizing town of Mataban on 18 and 23 April; at least ten soldiers killed 30 April in roadside explosion in Middle Shabelle region. In Bay region (South West state in south), Al-Shabaab around 12 April clashed with Ethiopian contingent of ATMIS and govt forces in Tugaar-Hoosle area; at least ten al-Shabaab reportedly killed. Amid worsening drought, several UN agencies 12 April said nearly 6mn people, roughly 40% of country’s population, face extreme levels of food insecurity with “pockets of famine conditions” likely in six areas.
Uncertainty over upcoming political cycle persisted, and authorities detained journalists. Opposition parties UCID and Waddani mid-April renewed accusation that President Bihi plans to prolong his stay in power, urged him to schedule presidential election. National Election Commission 27 April replaced NEC Chair Abdirashid Mohamud Ali with commissioner Kaltun Hassan Abdi; former immediately claimed move null and void, said he remained legitimate chair. Gunfire 13 April erupted in capital Hargeisa’s central prison as inmates allegedly clashed with prison guards; security forces detained 15 journalists covering events. Marodi-Jeh Regional Court 19 April released 12 journalists; local NGOs Somali Journalists Syndicate and Somali Media Association immediately welcomed move, demanded journalists still in detention be freed.
While main signatories of 2018 peace deal reached new agreement on unified armed forces command, deadly fighting displaced thousands in north. Following late-March spike in tensions between President Kiir and his long-time rival, VP Riek Machar, leaders 3 April agreed to implement key provision of 2018 peace agreement and form unified armed forces command; under Sudanese-brokered security deal, Kiir’s forces got 60% of key leadership posts in national security institutions, while Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) and South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) took remaining 40%. Following deal, Machar immediately announced he would lift weeks-long suspension of participation in security and ceasefire mechanisms that underpinned 2018 peace deal. Kiir 12 April ordered military officers loyal to Machar be officially integrated into unified army command. Violent clashes 8 April erupted between Machar’s SPLM/A-IO and forces allied to govt in Leer county of Unity state; local authorities 11 April reported around 14,000 people displaced and at least 35 killed, including SPLM/A-IO senior leader James Gatjung Dok, in several days of fighting. In Upper Nile state, govt forces and SPLM/A-IO troops mid-April accused each other of attacks in Maban county. Ethnic Misseriya militiamen from Sudan 13 April attacked three villages in disputed Abyei Administrative Area, reportedly killing over 40 people. Violence also continued in Jonglei and Lakes states. Notably, cattle-related violence 16 April reportedly killed four people in Jonglei’s Nyirol county. Lakes state authorities said four people killed and five wounded 1 April in Rumbek East county when youth from Unity state carried out cattle raids. Intercommunal clashes 8-12 April reportedly killed at least eight people in Eastern Equatoria state and neighbouring Greater Pibor Administrative Area (south east). UN Food and Agriculture Organization Representative in South Sudan Meshack Malo around 12 April said “two-thirds” of country’s population “will likely face hunger between May and July”.
Violence in West Darfur reportedly left over 200 dead, anti-coup protesters marked third anniversary of former President Bashir’s fall, and military leaders’ relations with UN deteriorated. Deadly violence continued to ravage Darfur. Fighting between Arab pastoralists and non-Arab Massalit tribesmen 21 April erupted in Kreinik area of West Darfur state, 25 April reportedly spread to state capital El Geneina. NGO General Coordination for Refugees and Displaced in Darfur 24 April said at least 168 people killed in violence, accused paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF)-backed Janjaweed militia of orchestrating attacks, while West Darfur Governor Khamis Abdalla Abkar 26 April said death toll was over 200. RSF Head Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti” 1 April ordered use of military force and implementation of emergency law in South Darfur state after deadly tribal violence in late March. Meanwhile, on anniversary of 2019 sit-in in front of military headquarters in capital Khartoum, thousands 6 April marched in Khartoum and across country, demanding civilian rule; security forces shot one protester dead. Thousands of anti-coup protesters 11 April rallied across country on third anniversary of Bashir’s removal. Coup leader and Sovereign Council Chairman Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan 1 April threatened to expel head of UN mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Volker Perthes, who late March warned political paralysis could lead country to “economic and security collapse”. Alliance of rebel groups signatory to 2020 peace agreement, Sudan Revolutionary Front, 9 April presented national dialogue initiative to resolve political crisis. Political coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) 14 April conditioned participation on release of political detainees and abolition of state of emergency; authorities 22-27 April released at least 27 political prisoners, including former Minister Khalid Omer Yousif and former Sovereign Council member Mohammed al-Faki Suliman, but dozens of opponents remained in prison. Military leaders took several steps toward rehabiliting Bashir-era ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and allies. Authorities around 7 April dropped charges of crimes against state pressed against NCP head Ibrahim Ghandour and released him from prison; court 26 April reversed order dissolving Islamic Call Organization, which served as financing arm for Bashir’s regime.
Lull in violence recorded in far north Cabo Delgado province as Mozambican, Rwandan and SADC troops increased coordination effort against jihadists; latter however retained capacity to mount attacks on security clusters in Nangade district. Govt forces early March engaged jihadist insurgents south of Nangade town, killing at least one near Chicuaia Velha village 3 April, and ambushing others in Chianga village next day. Islamist militants 4 April killed one further south in Nambedo area, Ntamba Administrative Post, and next day attacked military outpost in Mandimba village east of Nangade town; three soldiers reportedly killed. In response, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) troops reportedly moved out from Nangade district capital to reinforce Mandimba. Voice of America news outlet 18 April reported militants around 14 April abducted at least ten people, including women and children, near Chibau village, south of Nangade town. Militants 30 April returned to Chibau, killing one villager, and same day killed another civilian in Litingina village. In neighbouring Mueda district, combined force of Mozambican and Rwandan troops 22 April intercepted insurgents in Chipingo locality on their way to Muiha village in Nangade district; toll unknown. In Macomia district, some SAMIM troops based in Macomia town relocated north to site between Quinto Congresso and Nova Zambezia villages following spate of insurgent attacks in area since late 2021; Rwandan forces in recent weeks have also deployed around Macomia coastal towns of Quiterajo and Mucojo, outside their usual area of operation, reflecting more coordinated squeeze on insurgents. Elsewhere in Macomia, Matemo island remained under curfew following major incursion in March, with marine traffic blocked. Heads of state and govt from SADC’s Organ Troika, representatives of countries supporting SAMIM, and President Nyusi 12 April met virtually, extended SAMIM’s mandate for three months and approved mission’s transition from “rapid deployment” to “multidimensional” force taking on greater peacekeeping responsibilities. South Africa 14 April extended its own troop mandate for SADC intervention for 12 months; mandate of SAMIM troops had thus far been agreed multilaterally for periods of three months.
Authorities continued to harass political opposition, and Central Bank raised interest rate amid hyperinflation. Following March legislative by-elections, new MPs sworn in 5 April. Opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa same day urged party’s incoming legislators to prioritise electoral reforms to level electoral playing field ahead of 2023 general elections. Tensions ran high ahead of several local council by-elections scheduled for 7 May: authorities 16 April reportedly detained 14 CCC activists during rally in Mutare city, Manicaland province; residents of Chitungwiza town’s Zengeza West Ward 7 in Harare province mid-month accused ruling party ZANU-PF candidate for by-elections of intimidating electorate during door-to-door campaigns. CCC VP Tendai Biti claimed ZANU-PF representatives 18 April attempted to “kidnap” party activist Makomborero Haruzivishe, denounced President Mnangagwa’s “incorrigible regime with no respect of human rights”. State media stepped up campaign against prominent anti-corruption activist and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono. Notably, state broadcaster ZBC late-April claimed Chin’ono acquired goats from govt as part of controversial Command Agriculture scheme, prompting threats from well-known ZANU-PF activist that they would invade Chin’ono’s property in Mukarakate village (Murewa district) to seize his goats; villagers and CCC supporters 30 April reportedly gathered to protect Chin’ono’s estate. Meanwhile, ZANU-PF provincial youth league elections suspended 24 April in Mashonaland West province as party youths traded blows and threatened to kill each other. Amid currency slide and food and fuel price pressures exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, Central Bank 4 April raised main interest rate from 60% to record-high 80%, citing escalation in annual inflation to 72.7% in March.
Suspected jihadist attacks killed six members of security forces in country’s north. Armed group allegedly linked to Islamic State or al-Qaeda 11 April launched explosive device attack on armed forces convoy in Pendjari National Park in north west near Burkina Faso border; five soldiers killed and at least eight others injured. Suspected jihadist group 26 April raided police station in north-eastern municipality of Karimama (Alibori department), less than 50km from Niger border; attack killed one police officer and wounded several others. Amid series of jihadist attacks since late 2021, President Talon 6 April appointed Gen Fructueux Gbaguidi as new Armed Forces Chief.
President Ouattara named new VP and appointed slimmed-down govt; authorities continued to engage with neighbours to step up regional security cooperation. Ouattara 19 April announced selection as new VP of Tiémoko Meyliet Koné, governor of Central Bank of West African States; VP position had remained vacant since 2020. PM Achi 13 April resigned, giving way to long-expected govt reshuffle. Ouattara 19 April reappointed Achi, tasked him with forming slimmed-down govt to reduce spending; govt of 32 ministers, down from 41, unveiled next day. Presidential Chief of Staff Claude Sahi Soumahoro 5 April travelled to Netherlands to meet former Youth Minister Charles Blé Goudé in exile; Blé Goudé later same day said discussion focused on “modalities surrounding his return to Abidjan”. Former President Gbagbo 7-10 April toured stronghold regions of Guémon and Cavally, called for “consolidated political alliance” with former President Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire. Meanwhile, Ouattara 14 April received Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé at Abidjan presidential palace to discuss joint fight against jihadist groups; leaders pledged to take “bold regional measures” to defeat Islamist insurgencies. Defence and security ministers from ad hoc security coalition of West African states, Accra Initiative, 13 April met in Benin, agreed to create multinational joint task force to combat jihadists. University students in second-largest city of Bouake 25 April went on strike to demand better study conditions; next day clashed with police, reportedly leaving several students injured and 22 detained.
Special court charged former President Condé-era officials with financial crimes, while interim military authorities proposed 39-month transition to civilian rule. Court for economic and financial crimes (set up by ruling junta in late 2021) placed former govt officials and members of former ruling party Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) in detention on several charges, including corruption, embezzlement of public funds and money laundering: PM Ibrahima Kassory Fofana and former Defence Minister Mohamed Diané jailed 6 April; two other former ministers, Albert Damantang Camara and Ibrahima Kourouma, held in custody 21 April; former National Assembly Speaker Amadou Damaro Camara and former Electoral Commission President Loucény Camara also sent to prison around 28 April. In response, RPG 14 April suspended participation in national dialogue. On interim President Doumbouya’s orders, former President Condé 8 April returned to Guinea after receiving medical treatment in United Arab Emirates since Jan; ruling military junta 22 April announced Condé freed from house arrest. Meanwhile, Territorial and Decentralisation Minister Mory Condé 15 April unveiled ten-step electoral roadmap without set deadlines. Country 25 April missed regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deadline to present “acceptable timetable” for return to civilian rule. ECOWAS 27 April announced it would send mission to country to determine next steps. Doumbouya 30 April proposed 39-month transition to civilian rule; RPG and other opposition groups immediately denounced move.
Kaduna state remained epicentre of violence in North West and large-scale attacks left over 150 killed and thousands displaced in neighbouring Plateau state; Islamic State claimed expansion into central states, and separatists stepped up attacks in South East. Federal govt 13 April blamed “bandits” together with “Boko Haram insurgents” for late-March attack on Abuja-Kaduna train line in North West; operations continued to rescue dozens of abductees. Also in Kaduna, gunmen 4 April abducted 22 civilians on Abuja-Kaduna highway; same day attacked Polwire military base in Birnin Gwari area, killing at least a dozen soldiers. In Zamfara state, bandits 1 April reportedly attacked Daki Takwas village in Gummi area, killing at least 20 civilians. Troops 1 April engaged suspected bandits near Suleja town, Niger state; three bandits and 14 soldiers reportedly killed. Military next day said 83 suspected bandits killed in airstrikes in Zamfara and Kaduna states. Meanwhile, unidentified gunmen around 10 April reportedly killed around 154 people in Kanam area of Plateau state; about 4,800 people reportedly displaced by violence. In Borno state in North East, Boko Haram faction known as JAS around 31 March-1 April ambushed and killed about 50 fighters from rival group Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in Abadam area; renewed clashes in Sambisa forest 22 April left 32 killed on both sides. ISWAP allegedly expanded operations to new areas: group claimed 19 April bomb attack which killed at least three in Iware town, Taraba state, and overnight 22-23 April reportedly killed five policemen in first ISWAP attack in Kogi state. Herder-farmer violence continued. Suspected herders 4 April killed 12 people in Plateau’s Bassa area and 12 April killed at least 23 villagers in Guma and Tarka areas of Benue state. In south, suspected members of separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)’s armed wing Eastern Security Network launched almost daily attacks on local authorities and security forces, particularly in Anambra state: at least six people killed 3-7 April in Aguata area; four police officers killed 13 April in Ogbaru area. Federal High Court in Abuja 8 April dropped eight of 15 charges against IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu.
Japan reported uptick in Chinese aircraft incursions last year and proposed expanding defence budget to meet threats from China and North Korea. Japan Defence Ministry 15 April said it scrambled fighter jets on over 1,000 separate occasions in 2021 in response to aircraft approaching its airspace, up from 725 previous year; 722 scrambles were in response to Chinese aircraft, with majority over disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. As of 27 April, 84 Chinese vessels entered waters surrounding Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands during month; notably, four Chinese govt ships 12 April entered territorial waters, in sixth such incursion this year. Japan and U.S. 12-13 April conducted bilateral exercises in Sea of Japan. Russia 14 April launched cruise missiles from submarines in Sea of Japan as part of unilateral exercise involving fifteen vessels and aircraft. In first such report since Nov 2021, Japan 27 April announced Chinese navy ship sailed through its territorial waters. Meanwhile, Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi 5 April said he would request raised defence budget for next year to manage Chinese and North Korean challenges. In sign of Japan recalibrating its traditional pacifist stance, ruling Liberal Democratic Party 15 April proposed country acquire enemy base strike capability.
North Korea continued weapons testing as Seoul fired submarine-launched missiles, while incoming South Korean president planned early engagement with U.S. Following launch of intercontinental ballistic missile in March, U.S. 1 April sanctioned five entities it accused of providing support to North Korea’s weapons programs. North Korean state media 17 April reported leader Kim Jong Un observed test launch of new tactical guided weapon. South Korea week of 18 April tested two submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) off east coast of Korean Peninsula, in first such test since Sept 2021. Tests coincided with U.S. envoy to North Korea Sung Kim’s 18 April visit to South Korea’s capital Seoul, where he affirmed U.S. and South Korea would maintain “strongest possible joint deterrent” over Pyongyang’s “escalatory actions”. U.S. and South Korea same day commenced joint military exercises. North Korea 15 April marked “Day of the Sun” birth anniversary of national founder Kim Il Sung, without major military parade. Modest celebrations in Pyongyang were held in contrast to evidence of satellite images and diplomatic reports of preparations for parade, which went ahead 25 April in celebration of 90th anniversary of army foundation; no major new equipment was shown. President-elect Yoon Suk-Yeol’s advisers 4 April commenced visit to U.S. to prepare ground for early summit with U.S. President Biden. Outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un 20-21 April exchanged letters in likely final communication before Moon leaves office in May; Moon’s letter called on Kim to pursue peaceful inter-Korean relations under Yoon’s incoming conservative administration; Yoon transition team next day asserted “peace and prosperity” could only come from denuclearisation. South Korean Defence Minister Suh Wook 1 April said South Korean military had “ability to accurately and quickly hit any target in North Korea”; Kim Yo Jong, sister of Kim Jong Un, 3 April condemned remarks as worsening “inter-Korean relations and military tension”, and 5 April said North Korea opposes war but would use nuclear weapons if attacked, sentiment Kim Jong Un reiterated at parade 25 April.
U.S. maintained strong diplomatic and military support for Taiwan, while China responded with fiery rhetoric and continued aerial incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone. In third such package under Biden administration, U.S. State Department 6 April approved potential sale of military equipment, including Patriot Air Defence System, training and other services worth $95mn to support Taiwanese defence; China same day called arms sale violation of one-China principle. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cancelled 9 April Taiwan visit after reportedly testing positive for COVID-19; China had 7 April pledged to “resolutely fight back” if Pelosi visited. Six U.S. legislators 14 April visited Taiwan. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan 15 April said U.S. would “take every step we possibly can to ensure that [China’s invasion of Taiwan] never happens”; Chinese foreign ministry same day said “China must and will be reunified”. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai 18 April met Taiwanese Minister John Deng to review bilateral trade progress; Taiwan next day said it seeks to join U.S. Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. Chinese military 15 April conducted destroyer-bomber joint patrol around Taiwan; state media same day said exercise was both warning to Pelosi over any future visit and preparation “for potential, real actions that would resolve the Taiwan question once and for all”. Chinese aircraft continued incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone throughout month, totalling 68 planes as of 27 April. U.S. 7th Fleet Destroyer USS Sampson 26 April sailed through Taiwan Strait; in response, China said that it is one of U.S. “provocative acts that send wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” forces”. Taiwanese Coast Guard 8 April received fourth and fifth of 12 planned locally-made offshore patrol vessels. Taiwanese military 12 April released handbook on civil defence for first time, giving citizens survival guidance in war scenario.
Taliban announced farming restrictions which could aggravate economic crisis, series of terror attacks claimed over one hundred civilian casualties, and several new armed resistance groups emerged. In move that is likely to exacerbate financial woes of many farmers, Taliban 3 April announced ban on cultivation of all poppy crops and production of all other narcotics (including alcohol); implementation remained uncertain. Taliban also reportedly increased interference in humanitarian efforts in April, pushing for aid to be distributed in coordination with govt. After relatively calm months, country witnessed several mass casualty attacks coinciding with Spring season, mostly targeting Shia Hazara ethnic minority, as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) launched some of its deadliest attacks of year. Notably, bomb blasts 2 April killed five and injured at least 20 people on playground in Herat (west); bomb blasts 19 April targeted Hazara children going to school and education centres in capital Kabul; bomb blasts 21 April targeted minivan in Kunduz province (north), killing at least 18 govt employees; ISKP same day attacked Hazara mosque in Balkh province (north), killing dozens; bomb blasts 22 April targeted Sunni mosque, killing 33 in Kunduz province, with no group claiming responsibility; twin explosions 28 April killed at least nine people on two buses in Balkh province (north), again targeting Hazara. Explosion at Khalifa Sahib Mosque in Kabul 29 April killed over 50 Sunni worshippers. Grievances against Taliban govt appeared to rise, with several new armed resistance groups emerging, bringing total to near dozen such groups active inside country, mostly in northern provinces; National Resistance Front (NRF) led by Ahmad Massoud, Afghanistan Freedom Front (purportedly led by former General Zia Yasin) and High Council for Resistance (led by Atta Noor) appeared to be particularly active. Most notably, NRF attacks and Taliban counter-operations continued in Panjshir, Parwan, Kabul, Kapisa, Baghlan and Takhar provinces in April. Meanwhile, relations with Pakistan worsened. Pakistan 16 April launched cross-border airstrikes, resulting in dozens of civilian casualties in Kunar and Khost provinces (east); Taliban authorities warned Islamabad of dire consequences, while Pakistan accused Taliban of failing to prevent Pakistani Taliban from launching cross-border attacks against Pakistani security forces.
Tensions between ruling Awami League Party and opposition persisted, authorities continued arrests of suspected jihadist militants, and fires again affected Rohingya refugee camp. Police 6 April arrested opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Ishraque Hossain while he was protesting price hikes in capital Dhaka, for alleged role in Nov 2020 arson attack in Dhaka; BNP Sec Gen Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir 9 April called Hossain’s arrest part of ruling Awami League (AL) Party’s “new game” of “arresting opposition leaders and activists in false cases” ahead of general elections due to take place in Dec 2023. BNP 14 April said U.S state dept’s 2021 report on govt’s human rights practices published 12 April had exposed Awami League govt’s “deadly misrule”, including sentencing and imprisoning BNP chief Khaleda Zia on political grounds, subverting judicial independence and involving security forces in “killings, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings”; FM Abdul Momen previous day rejected report’s findings, stating it was based on “misinformation” from “anti-government propaganda” machines. Meanwhile, authorities 22 April arrested Jamaat-e-Islami leader in Rajshahi district, accused of terrorist activities and conspiring against state; authorities previous day arrested three other Jamaat leaders in Barguna district for allegedly “planning sabotage”. Dhaka court 13 April sentenced four Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants to death for 2014 attack of liberal Dhaka University professor. Paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 14 April arrested Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami fugitive in Kishoreganj district, who had been sentenced to death in 2014 for attack on Hindu festival in 2001 and 2004 grenade attack that threatened PM Hasina. RAB 25 April arrested suspected Ansar Al-Islam militant in Narail district. FM Abdul Momen 4 April met with U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken in Washington DC and called on U.S. to encourage BNP to take part in election process; Momen same day told reporters removal of U.S. sanctions on RAB would take time because U.S. administration process requires clearances from “23 committees” before sanctions can be lifted. In third such incident in four months, fire 4 April broke out in Cox’s Bazar’s Camp 17, which is part of conglomeration of camps hosting over 600,000 Rohingya refugees, destroying school.
Communal violence flared during celebration of Hindu festivals, deadly Maoist activity continued, and govt extended ceasefire with Naga armed groups. Communal violence and rioting between Hindus and Muslims in states of Delhi, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka 16 April erupted during celebrations of Hindu festival Hanuman Jayanti. Earlier, celebration of another Hindu festival, Ram Navami, 10 April also led to communal clashes in states as distant as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and West Bengal. In both instances Muslim homes and shops were destroyed, preceded by provocative hoisting of Hindu nationalist saffron flags on mosques – suggesting attacks were well-planned rather than spontaneous. Maoist violence continued. Notably, Maoists 10 April hacked police officer to death in Bijapur district, Chhattisgarh state (centre); banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) 15 April alleged that security forces targeted them in Bijapur district, using more than 50 bombs within one hour, though there were no deaths or injuries; security forces denied conducting any such airstrikes. Maoists 17 April attacked security camp in Bijapur district with grenades, injuring four security forces personnel. Maoists 18 April allegedly killed 30-year-old man in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. Govt 20 April extended ceasefire agreement with three Naga (tribes located in Nagaland and Manipur states) militant groups for another year, until 27 April 2023; groups include breakaway factions of powerful anti-govt separatist armed groups NSCN-IM and NSCN-K, namely National Socialist Council of Nagaland-NK (NSCN-NK), National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Reformation (NSCN-R) and National Socialist Council of Nagaland-K-Khango (NSCN-K-Khango). Govt interlocuter for talks 19 April met NSCN (IM) general secretary at group’s headquarters near Dimapur, Nagaland state (north east); while talks have been ongoing since 1997, progress has remained stalled as NSCN-IM refuses to give up demand for separate flag and constitution for Nagas.
Indian PM Modi and Pakistan’s new PM Sharif exchanged conciliatory messages, while militant attacks and security operations persisted in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Indian PM Narendra Modi 12 April congratulated newly elected Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif, calling for “constructive engagement”; Sharif 17 April responded by urging resolution of Kashmir dispute in “interest of mutual peace and prosperity”. Previously, at “Fourth Annual U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue”, sides 11 April “strongly condemned any use of terrorist proxies and cross-border terrorism” and called on Pakistan to take “irreversible action” to ensure its territory is not used to launch terror attacks; Islamabad 13 April rejected “unwarranted” reference to “some non-existent and dismantled entities”. India’s Minister of Home Affairs Nityanand Rai 6 April told parliament militants have killed 14 Hindus, including four Kashmiri Pandits, since govt repealed Article 370 in Aug 2019. India’s National Investigative Agency 8 April filed charges against 25 people accused of targeted killings in Kashmir and blamed Pakistan-based terrorist organisations for “deep-rooted conspiracy to spread terrorism” and radicalise youth in J&K. India’s Ministry of Home Affairs 8 April designated son of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed as terrorist under Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act; 14 April also designated Al-Umar-Mujahideen founder Mushtaq Ahmad Zarg as terrorist. Counter-insurgency operations and militant attacks continued in J&K. Security operation 9 April killed two alleged LeT militants in Anantnag and Kulgam districts; 10 April killed two alleged Pakistani militants in Srinagar district; 11 April killed two militants in Kulgam district; 14 April killed four alleged LeT militants in Shopian district; 16 April killed security personnel in Anantnag district; 21 April killed alleged LeT commander in Baramulla district. Militants 4 April killed security force in Srinagar; 15 April killed village level elected representative in Baramulla district; 18 April killed security force personnel in Pulwama district. Security forces 1 and 3 April arrested three alleged militant associates of Jaish-e-Muhammad in Pulwama district and five alleged LeT associates in Bandipora district.
Political parties remained fixated on local elections slated for mid-May amid signs of looming economic crisis. Five-party ruling alliance 20 April reached deal dividing up mayoral and deputy mayoral candidacies for 17 key local election races planned for 13 May; several local leaders of ruling Nepali Congress criticised move, claiming PM Sher Bahadur Deuba had made decision unilaterally without consulting party’s wider membership. Meanwhile, fears grew of potential economic crisis due to increase in inflation, decrease in remittances, and growing balance of payment deficit, all of which have created multiple pressures on Nepal’s import-reliant economy. Central Bank 12 April reported that inflation was over 7 per cent (highest levels in nearly five years), balance of payment deficit was over $2bn, and foreign exchange reserves were sufficient for fewer than seven months. Finance Minister Janardan Sharma 8 April suspended Central Bank governor for supposed incompetence and leaking of sensitive information in move widely perceived as politically-motivated given governor was appointed by previous KP Oli-led govt; Sharma 11 April also dismissed concerns of potential crisis as misinformation.
After losing no-confidence vote, former PM Khan called on supporters to reject new govt, risking further political and anti-West violence amid surge in militant attacks. Deputy speaker 3 April dismissed no-confidence vote in PM Khan and president of National Assembly same day dissolved assembly and retained Khan as interim PM; Supreme Court 7 April ruled both decisions were unconstitutional and called for no-trust vote to be held. Nine-party joint opposition spearheaded by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) 10 April ousted Khan through vote of no-confidence; assembly next day elected Shehbaz Sharif as PM in absence of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers, who, with exception of around two dozen dissidents, had resigned en masse. In attempt to undermine new govt’s legitimacy, Khan 10 April called for nationwide protests against “foreign conspiracy of regime change”; protests same day took place in Peshawar, Karachi, and Lahore cities, as large crowds chanted anti-U.S. slogans. Khan’s supporters on social media criticised military leadership for falling to prevent Khan’s ouster. Political infighting engulfed Punjab province after Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar resigned late March; PTI and aligned PML-Q (Pakistan Muslim League –Quaid-e-Azam) parliamentarians rejected election of PM Sharif’s son on 16 April; Punjab governor’s refusal, despite Lahore High Court’s advice, to administer oath to Hamza Sharif left province without functional govt. Meanwhile, attacks by Pakistani Taliban militants on security personnel in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, particularly near Afghan border, escalated sharply. Notably, militant attack 14 April killed seven soldiers in North Waziristan district near Afghan border, where another attack killed three soldiers 23 April. Two separate militant attacks 11 and 12 April killed officer and soldier in South Waziristan district and five police officers in Dera Ismail Khan district. Spike in attacks and military casualties strained Islamabad’s relations with Afghan Taliban govt, which 16 April claimed that Pakistani military planes had bombed villages in Kunar and Khost provinces, resulting in dozens of civilian casualties, including women and children. Balochistan Liberation Army 26 April claimed suicide attack on Karachi university, killing three Chinese teachers and injuring another; group next day warned of more attacks on Chinese targets.
Unprecedented multi-class, multi-ethnic protest movement demanded Rajapaksa govt’s resignation, as fears rose over prolonged political standoff and Central Bank announced first ever default. Following unrest late March when crowds attempted to storm President Rajapaksa’s private residence, govt 1 April declared state of emergency followed by two-day island-wide curfew and shutdown of social media networks; moves triggered fierce resistance to orders, forcing govt to reverse course. Tens of thousands 4 April took to streets in multiple locations. Thousands since 9 April peacefully camped outside president’s offices in central Colombo, with daily protests across island. In coordinated tactical retreat designed to restore govt credibility, all govt ministers 3 April resigned. President Rajapaksa next day appointed new four-member cabinet, headed by brother Mahinda as PM; move failed to quell unrest, as parliamentary opposition 4 April rejected president’s offer to form unity govt. Over 40 allied lawmakers 5 April withdrew support from govt, putting ruling party’s parliamentary majority in doubt. Main opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) 21 April tabled bill with constitutional reforms, including to end system of executive presidency and return to full parliamentary system; parallel efforts to gain majority for no-confidence vote against govt were unsuccessful. President Rajapaksa 18 April appointed new cabinet, which failed to placate protesters. In 29 April meeting with 11-party group of former govt allies, president reportedly agreed to form interim govt with new PM. Police 19 April fired on crowds protesting fuel price increases, killing one and wounding two dozen. President Rajapaksa, under domestic and international pressure, 20 April promised impartial inquiry; incident renewed fears president and his allies in security forces may turn to widespread repression as means to retain power. Govt efforts to secure international financial relief continued. Central Bank 12 April announced suspending repayments of foreign debt, effectively declaring country’s bankruptcy and first-ever default. Govt 18-19 April held first substantive talks with International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and 20 April indicated talks were at early stage. India 20 April announced willingness to supply additional $500mn credit line for fuel purchases.
Deadly fighting between Tatmadaw and resistance forces continued, while China demonstrated public support for regime. April saw profusion of military raids and clashes between regime and locally-organised people’s defence forces (PDFs). Notably, in Magway region regime forces 2-4 April raided villages in Yesagyo township, destroying at least 120 homes and killing elderly man; resistance groups 2-3 April clashed with military, reportedly killing commanding officer and injuring at least three soldiers in Myaing township. Elsewhere in Myaung township, 22 resistance groups 2-3 April led combined assault against military, reportedly killing 12 soldiers. In Sagaing region, regime forces 3 April raided village in Khin-U township, burning 200 homes; in Pinlebu township, Kachin Independence Army and PDF fighters 30 March-10 April clashed with regime forces, capturing key buildings before withdrawing under aerial bombardment from military; resistance forces reportedly detained at least eight soldiers, while fighting killed at least 13 civilians and resistance fighters and displaced some 1,000 civilians. In Kayin State, Karen National Liberation Army fighters 4 April clashed with regime forces at two locations along Kawkareik-Myawaddy stretch of so-called Asian Highway connecting Myanmar and Thailand. National Unity Govt (NUG), PDFs and ethnic armed groups 10 April congratulated Arakan Army (AA) on anniversary of foundation, underscoring growing power of group; AA leader warned that forces should “be ready to go to war”, raising possibility of renewed fighting between AA and regime forces in Rakhine state. Festivities were subdued at official Thingyan (Myanmar New Year) events 13-17 April, as resistance groups urged boycott; military 17 April announced release of 1,619 prisoners; monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma said 10,238 people were in detention for coup-related offences as of 15 April. NUG 7 April claimed responsibility for shooting Central Bank Deputy Governor. Naypyitaw court 27 April sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to five years imprisonment in first of 11 pending corruption cases. Meanwhile, State Administration Council (SAC) FM Wunna Maung 1 April met Chinese FM Wang Yi in Huangshan city, China; in strongest public backing of regime to date, China declared it “will always support Myanmar in safeguarding sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity”.
Clashes between authorities and militants continued in south, while lethal violence between govt and communist rebels rose, leaving at least 25 dead. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, clashes between militants and authorities continued through month. Notably, in Basilan province military 2 April launched operation against alleged members of Abu Sayyaf Group in Sumisip town, causing two militant casualties; Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) claimed some of targeted fighters were its own, in second such claim made by MILF in two months following clashes between military and alleged Abu Sayyaf Group militants. In Shariff Saydona Mustapha town, military 18 April killed MILF combatant in Datu Kilay village after rebels allegedly fired upon military; MILF accused govt of raiding community. Both incidents come amid stable but stalled peace process. Govt 8 April extended mandate of International Monitoring Team monitoring peace process with MILF until end of June 2022. Militant surrenders from other armed groups continued during April. Notably, two Abu Sayyaf Group militants 5 April laid down arms in Sulu province, while govt figures 12 April showed two Islamic State-affiliated Maute Group militants surrendered in Piagapo municipality, Lanao del Sur province. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued; in marked uptick from March, violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north led to at least 25 combatant and civilian fatalities. In Marawi province, presidential candidate and son of former dictator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. 2 April expressed confidence in rebuilding Marawi city before President Duterte steps down in June. Duterte 27 April signed into law measure that will provide tax-free monetary compensation for people who died and lost their properties during Marawi events in 2018. Preparations continued for general election scheduled for 9 May; polling conducted mid-to-late month showed Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. with comfortable lead in presidential race.
Beijing stepped up diplomatic engagement with Philippines, while Manila and Tokyo expanded defence cooperation. Ahead of Philippines election in May, Chinese FM Wang Yi 3 April met Filipino FM Teodoro Locsin, urging Manila to avoid external “disturbances” to its China policy and prevent tension over South China Sea (SCS) disputes. Filipino President Duterte 8 April spoke to Chinese President Xi; both leaders called for restraint in SCS. Meeting coincided with conclusion of U.S.-Philippines Balikatan Exercise on 8 April involving 8,900 troops and aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln – largest iteration of annual joint drill since 2015. Japan and Philippines 9 April agreed to expand defence cooperation following first “2+2” meeting of foreign and defence ministers; official statement condemned “unlawful maritime claims, militarisation, coercive activities and threat or use of force” in SCS, without naming specific countries. China’s J-20 stealth fighter manufacturer 13 April confirmed jets had begun to be used to patrol SCS, generating concern among regional powers over balance of air in region amid growing militarisation. Chinese navy 23 April celebrated its 73rd anniversary 23 April and announced commissioning second Type 075 amphibious assault ship and sixth Type 055 large destroyer, as well as hinting that third aircraft carrier will be revealed soon.
Govt and main militant separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) advanced peace talks and agreed to Ramadan ceasefire, notwithstanding continued deadly violence in deep south. Govt and BRN 31 March-1 April met for dialogue, with BRN for first time sending member of military wing, Deng Awaeji – indicating BRN effort to demonstrate internal unity. Both sides endorsed General Principles of Peace Dialogue Process previously discussed in Jan working group meeting, committing each side to “political solutions in accordance with the will of the Patani community under the Unitary State of Thailand in accordance with the Constitution”, public consultation and reduction of violence; both parties also agreed to reducing violence from 3 April to 14 May in Ramadan Peace Initiative. Despite pledge holding steady, violence continued in deep south throughout month. Notably, unidentified gunmen 5 April shot dead Malay-Muslim man in Mae Kaen district, Pattani province. Unidentified gunmen 10 April shot and killed Muslim leader in Nong Chik district, Pattani. IED 15 April killed civilian in Saiburi district, with second bomb targeting responding explosive ordnance disposal officers, wounding three; Patani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) president Kasturi Mahkota 16 April claimed responsibility, saying group named PULO G5 carried out attack due to PULO’s exclusion from BRN dialogue with govt. Member of Thai dialogue delegation next day said attack would not derail Ramadan Peace Initiative and that govt was “ready and happy to talk to all groups”. Meanwhile in capital Bangkok, unknown assailants 10 April threw two “ping pong bombs” into First Infantry Regiment compound, location of PM’s residence, with no injuries reported; police next day arrested seven suspects, including rapper and political activist Thanayuth Na Ayutthaya (alias Eleven Fingers), Patima Fakthong, and pro-democracy protest leader Pornpoj Chaengkrachang (alias Phet Phra Uma), along with four minors.
Authorities signed security pact with Beijing, which provoked concern among U.S. and its allies over potential future Chinese military presence on islands. After leaked draft surfaced in March of security pact between govt and China, which reportedly included provision on establishing permanent Chinese military base on islands, govt 1 April announced that it “is conscious of the security ramification of hosting a military base, and it will not be careless to allow such initiative to take place under its watch”. News of pact triggered international concern among U.S. and its allies. U.S. Deputy Sec of State Wendy Sherman 12 April held call with FM Jeremiah Manele about reopening U.S. embassy in capital Honiara after 29 years. Australian envoy next day visited Honiara and met PM Manasseh Sogavare, requesting govt “respectfully to consider not signing the agreement” with Beijing. Sogavare 20 April confirmed deal had been signed with China. U.S. National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink 22 April visited Honiara and met Sogavare; statement following meeting said U.S. would have “significant concerns and respond accordingly” if “steps are taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation”. Australian PM Scott Morrison 24 April described Chinese military base as “red line” for Australia. Japanese Vice FM Kentaro Uesugi 26 April met Sogavare, reportedly expressing Japan’s concern over security pact.
Amid war in Ukraine, regional tensions ran high as authorities warned of Russian and Serbian threats in Western Balkans, and blamed series of small-scale attacks on Belgrade. President Osmani 5 April accused Russia of having interest “in attacking Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina”, while stating Serbia may feel “emboldened by what is happening in the continent of Europe right now”; Osmani also stated that NATO membership is “becoming indispensable, especially in light of events in Ukraine” and EU’s “active appeasement policy” toward Serbian President Vučić is “big mistake”. Following Serbian elections, PM Kurti 12 April claimed that removal of Albanian voters in Serbia’s south from election lists equated to “silent ethnic cleansing” and called polls “neither free nor democratic”. Interior minister 15 April announced four attacks, including one with use of rifles and grenades, on police officers in previous three days in Zubin Potok, Serb-majority municipality in north; PM Kurti same day alleged attacks were “coming from Serbia”, prompting EU and U.S. same day to caution against “speculation”. Temporary agreement with Serbia forged in Sept 2021 that resolved license plate dispute expired 21 April as EU-facilitated talks failed to produce new permanent deal, while reports indicated temporary measures would remain in place; EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák same day warned against actions that “jeopardise the security on the ground”. Meanwhile, at UN Security Council briefing on UN Mission in Kosovo, govt and Serbia exchanged barbs: FM Gervalla-Schwarz 22 April accused Serbian FM Selaković of trying to “manipulate facts” and said Vučić “propagated genocide as something heroic”; Serbian counterpart claimed Gervalla-Schwarz ignored past “crimes committed by the Kosovo Albanians”.
Peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan gained momentum, triggering political backlash at home as opposition announced street protests to oust govt. After major flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) in March that resulted in Azerbaijani forces taking control of strategic mountains inside Armenian-populated areas, EU 6 April facilitated third meeting between Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev; pair agreed to instruct respective FMs to work on peace treaty and convene joint border commission by late April (see Nagorno-Karabakh). In address to parliament, PM Pashinyan 13 April said Yerevan was facing international pressure to scale down demands on status of breakaway NK, that there was no alternative to peace with Azerbaijan, and expressed commitment to signing peace deal “as soon as possible”; Pashinyan also stressed that Karabakh issue was about rights, not territories, and peace negotiations should ensure security guarantees, rights and freedoms for Karabakh Armenians, as well as clarify territory’s final status. Momentum toward peace talks raised fears among political opposition that govt is preparing to cede NK’s control to Azerbaijan. Notably, opposition parties 5 April held large-scale rally in capital Yerevan against signing peace deal with Baku that would compromise Armenian-populated NK’s claim for independence from Azerbaijan. Opposition MPs 12 April brought breakaway NK flags to parliament before walking out of session and travelling to various villages in Armenia and NK; Russian peacekeepers in NK same day denied opposition MPs entry, prompting Armenian foreign ministry 12 April to claim lack of access contradicted Nov 2020 ceasefire agreement. Meanwhile, opposition MP and Deputy Parliament Speaker Ishkhan Saghatelyan 22 April announced start of “non-stop street struggle” to oust govt; leading opposition alliances, Armenia and I Have the Honour, 25 April began small-scale demonstrations ahead of mass protests aimed at toppling Pashinyan, accused PM of planning concessions to Azerbaijan over NK; rallies late April were held over multiple days in Yerevan, as Office of Human Rights Defender 27 April cited evidence of police using disproportionate force to detain some protesters.
Peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan gained momentum. After major flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) in March that resulted in Azerbaijani forces taking control of strategic mountains inside Armenian-populated areas, EU 6 April facilitated third meeting between Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev; pair agreed to instruct respective FMs to work on peace treaty and convene joint border commission by late April (see Nagorno-Karabakh). President Aliyev 23 April said in phone conversation with European Council President Charles Michel that Baku had set up commission for delimitation and demarcation of state border and delegation to draft peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia (see Nagorno-Karabakh). Aliyev 12 April said that Armenia during 6 April meeting accepted five principles of settlement proposed by Baku, which included mutual recognition of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and mutual affirmation of absence of territorial claims. Aliyev 22 April said that EU “is very actively involved in the normalisation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia” and added that Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group was no longer involved in process; Armenia’s Security Council secretary previous day had said peace process with Baku was proceeding with assistance from Russia, U.S. and EU. State Border Service 23 April said it detained member of Armenian “subversive group” who attempted to cross border in Zangilan district; Armenian defence ministry same day said soldier had crossed border under unknown circumstances.
Breakaway South Ossetia’s de facto leader, who has called for accession to Russia, competed in first round of presidential elections. Following late March announcement by de facto leader of breakaway South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov of intention to join Russia after April de facto presidential elections, Georgian leaders raised concern over possible Russian annexation of breakaway South Ossetia. At first round of de facto presidential election in breakaway territory, opposition leader Alan Gagloyev 10 April came in first with 38%; Bibilov came in second with 34.95%. Run-off vote was supposed to be held on 28 April but de facto central electoral commission rescheduled it for 8 May. Gagloyev 18 April met Kremlin official in Russia’s capital Moscow ahead of run-off election. Meanwhile, Abkhaz authorities and leaders maintained insistence on independence of de facto state in contrast to South Ossetia’s de facto leadership; however, Abkhaz de facto opposition Patriotic Movement and some Russian politicians during month maintained that Abkhaz accession to Russian Federation remained possible. After de facto parliamentary elections in breakaway Abkhazia in March, de facto parliament 11 April elected Lasha Ashuba as speaker. State Security Service 18 April declared release of Georgian citizen Vladimer Kaniashvili, formerly detained in breakaway South Ossetia in Dec 2021. Meanwhile, family of imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili late month demanded authorities permit Saakashvili to obtain urgent medical treatment in foreign country; family warned of protests if request not met by 2 May. Over dozen NGOs 28 April called for govt to ensure Saakashvili receives adequate medical treatment.
Peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan gained momentum, triggering concern among de facto NK authorities and Armenia’s political opposition. After major flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) in March that resulted in Azerbaijani forces taking control of strategic mountains inside Armenian-populated areas, EU 6 April facilitated third meeting between Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev; pair agreed to instruct respective FMs to work on peace treaty and convene joint border commission by late April. President Aliyev 12 April said that Armenia during 6 April meeting accepted five principles of settlement proposed by Baku, which included mutual recognition of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and mutual affirmation of absence of territorial claims (see Azerbaijan). Armenian PM Pashinyan 13 April reiterated that Yerevan had accepted Azerbaijan’s proposals regarding peace agreement, including mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity (see Armenia). Momentum toward peace talks raised fears in NK and Armenia that Yerevan is preparing to cede NK’s control to Azerbaijan. Notably, Armenian opposition MPs 12 April travelled various villages in Armenia and NK; Russian peacekeepers in NK same day denied them entry, prompting Armenian foreign ministry to claim lack of access contradicted Nov 2020 ceasefire agreement. De facto NK leader Arayik Harutyunyan 13 April rejected “impossible” Azerbaijani rule over region, while de facto NK parliament 14 April demanded end to “disastrous” Armenian position. Harutyunyan 25 April said Pashinyan had previous day assured him that Armenia would not back any agreements on region’s status unacceptable to Karabakh Armenians. Meanwhile, war in Ukraine strained cooperation between West and Russia and raised doubt over Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group. Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 8 April accused U.S. and France of refusing to work with Russia in OSCE format following Russian invasion of Ukraine. French Co-chair 14 April and U.S. Co-chair 18 April visited Armenia to reiterate importance of Minsk Group in finding comprehensive settlement. Pashinyan and Russian President Putin 19 April met and reaffirmed Minsk Group as valid and important format.
Amid ongoing heavy crackdown on dissent, authorities accused Ukraine of cross-border attacks, which injured dozens and reportedly killed one soldier. As Russia continued to attempt to control narrative over war in Ukraine (see Ukraine), authorities targeted scores of activists; NGO OVD-Info 14 April reported at least 993 administrative cases and 84 criminal cases across country on account of discrediting Russian armed forces. Notably, authorities 15 April charged head of Yabloko party’s north-western Pskov branch in Pskov city; 17 April detained Yabloko deputy in Pskov city; 22 April arrested politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, one of founders of Russian Anti-War Committee in capital Moscow; 27 April arrested journalist Maria Ponomarenko in St Petersburg city. Ministry of Justice 8 April also revoked registration of 15 international organisations, including Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Amnesty International, forcing them to close offices in Russia. Meanwhile, authorities during month reported shelling of border regions with Ukraine, which injured at least 25 people according to state media; notably, two Ukrainian helicopters 14 April allegedly conducted airstrikes on village in Bryansk region, injuring seven people. Authorities 23 April reported checkpoint in Kursk Oblast came under fire from Ukraine. Explosions 25 April broke out at oil storage facility and ostensible military facility in Bryansk region. Fires 27 April broke out at ammunition depot in Kursk region and were reported in Belgorod and Voronezh regions. Local media 28 April reported first soldier killed inside Russia in Belgorod region, reportedly due to Ukrainian shelling on 19 April. Defence ministry 20 April successfully tested Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile; President Putin said nuclear-capable projectile will make Moscow’s enemies “think twice”. Internationally, Western states and their allies imposed new sanctions. U.S. 6 April extended sanctions against banking sector and President Putin’s daughters; next day suspended normal trade relations and prohibited energy imports with Russia and Belarus. EU 8 April imposed fifth package of sanctions; notably, EU expanded embargo on all Russian coal imports, starting 10 Aug, affecting 25% of all Russian coal exports. UK, Switzerland, Montenegro, Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand also imposed sanctions during month.
Authorities continued crackdown on dissent, while U.S. and EU imposed further sanctions to condemn govt’s role in Ukraine war. Authorities stifled dissent during April. Notably, Supreme Court 8 April declared Nexta news outlet and corresponding Telegram channels as “extremist organization”. Authorities 20 April arrested journalist Aksana Kolb without presenting charges; NGO Committee to Protect Journalists same day claimed “Kolb’s detention shows that the situation for journalists in Belarus remains extremely worrying”. Meanwhile, lower house of parliament 27 April approved bill to make attempted acts of terrorism punishable with death penalty; bills follows numerous media reports about activists allegedly sabotaging rail links to disrupt Russia’s war effort in Ukraine. Internationally, U.S. 8 April expanded sanctions on Belarus and Russia over Ukraine war, including removal from most-favoured-nation trade status; 14 April imposed restrictions on seven Belarussian owned or operated aircrafts, effectively grounding them; 20 April imposed visa restrictions on 17 individuals, including Belarus nationals, “responsible for undermining democracy” through “intimidation, harassment and repression”. EU 8 April adopted fifth sanctions package due to Ukraine war, expelling non-essential Russian and Belarusian road transport and banning sale of banknotes and transferable securities to Russia and Belarus. Polish authorities 6 April announced arrest of two Belarusians on “charges of espionage”; suspects face up to ten years of prison.
Unknown assailants launched armed attack on de facto ministry in breakaway Transnistria, as concerns rose incident could signal spillover from Ukraine war. De facto interior ministry of breakaway territory Transnistria – located along Ukrainian border and controlled by Russian-speaking separatists since 1992 – 25 April reported attack on de facto security ministry allegedly involving grenade-launchers; no casualties reported. Moldova’s foreign ministry same day said aim of incident “is to create pretexts for straining the security situation in the Transnistrian region”. Ukrainian intelligence directorate 26 April said incident “is one of a number of acts of provocation organised by [Russian intelligence services] to incite panic and anti-Ukrainian sentiment” and “justify the war on the territory of Ukraine in order to involve the [Transnistrian] region in combat”. De facto head of region Vadim Krasnoselsky 26 April said “traces of these attacks lead to Ukraine”. Russian major general 22 April reportedly said Russian control of southern Ukraine could provide access to Transnistria, where estimated 1,500 Russian troops are stationed.
Month saw relative calm in Kyiv region as Russian forces withdrew to launch new offensive in east, where fighting could worsen as it edges closer to urban areas. Russian troops by 2 April had vacated stretch of land between Kyiv’s north-western suburbs and Belarusian border, as well as Chernihiv and Sumy regions, north east of Kyiv. Following Russian troops’ departure, authorities said they had recovered over 1,000 bodies of murdered civilians, most notably in Bucha, and alleged war crimes. Russian forces continued attacks in east. Notably, Russia 1 April captured Izium city south east of Kharkiv city; Russian missile 8 April struck train station in Donetsk city of Kramatorsk, killing at least 50. Marking new phase of war, Kremlin 10 April appointed General Alexander Dvornikov to oversee invasion. Russia late-April launched new offensive in Donbas. Notably, Russia 20 April seized eastern town of Kreminna in Luhansk. Ukrainian forces 29 April claimed they regained Ruska Lozova north of Kharkiv; fighting could worsen in east, as it comes closer to urban areas in Severodonetsk and Sloviansk/Kramatorsk area. In south, besieged Donbas port city of Mariupol remained worst affected hotspot with 100,000 people encircled. President Putin 21 April claimed Russian forces took city, although Ukrainian forces remained holed up in Azovstal steel plant; after talks between UN Sec Gen Antonio Guterres and Putin in Moscow on 26 April, UN 30 April reportedly began limited evacuations of civilians from steel plant. Governor of Odessa 13 April announced Ukrainian forces attacked flagship Russian missile cruiser Moskva, which caught fire and sank; large number of 500-member crew remained unaccounted for. On humanitarian front, UN 17 April estimated 7.7mn people internally displaced, 5.3 mn refugees, although exodus reportedly slower than March due to greater security in Kyiv region. On diplomatic front, UN Human Rights Council 7 April suspended Russia. Zelenskyy hosted EU, UK, U.S. officials in capital Kyiv, who promised more sanctions and weapons. Talks between Kyiv and Moscow were limited to humanitarian corridors and exchanges of prisoners, as sides focus on battlefield outcomes in Donbas. Guterres 28 April visited Kyiv and sites of suspected war crimes; Russian airstrikes hit city during visit.
Greek Cypriot negotiator resigned over lack of progress in diplomatic process, while Republic of Cyprus boosted ties with Israel. Greek Cypriot chief negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis 17 April resigned, citing lack of progress on negotiations for resolution to Cyprus question; govt intends to appoint Menelaos Menelaou, foreign ministry official with long experience regarding Cyprus negotiations, after new president elected in Feb 2023. Israeli, Greek and Greek Cypriot FMs 5 April met in Greek capital Athens and vowed to boost energy ties and cooperation in other areas; specifically, they agreed to make progress on Euro-Asia interconnector project – world’s longest and deepest underwater power cable through Mediterranean (due to be completed in 2024). International news outlets 11 April reported that Republic of Cyprus, Israel and Greece were exploring option of building liquefied natural gas terminal in Republic of Cyprus.
Military operations against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) intensified in northern Iraq, human rights advocates received heavy sentences, and President Erdoğan visited Saudi Arabia. Military 18 April launched new operation against PKK in northern Iraq dubbed “Claw-Lock”; fighter jets targeted infrastructure and bases used by PKK militants in Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions (see Iraq). In Turkey, roadside bomb attack 20 April hit bus carrying prison guards in western Bursa province, killing one and injuring thirteen; Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement, umbrella group spearheaded by PKK, 24 April claimed attack. Police crackdown against pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party continued during month, including 12 April detention of 91 individuals on charges of offering financial support to PKK. Security operations against Islamic State (ISIS) cells/operatives continued; police detained more than 120 individuals with alleged ISIS links across country. In contravention of legally-binding judgment of European Court of Human Rights from Dec 2019, penal court in Istanbul city 25 April sentenced businessman and human rights advocate Osman Kavala to life in prison without parole on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government” over his involvement in 2013 Gezi park protests; seven other well-known human rights activists also sentenced to 18 years in prison in same case. Ankara and Athens continued diplomatic engagement, notwithstanding tensions. FM Çavuşoğlu 4 April said dialogue channels between sides were more open today than ever before. Govts 19 April confirmed they will hold fourth round of talks on military confidence building measures (date yet to be announced). Greece 27 April protested “unacceptable provocation” following flights by Turkish fighter jets in Aegean Sea, claiming it violated Greek airspace; Turkey rejected claims and accused Athens of violating its airspace. Govt 22 April pulled out of NATO air force exercises due to be held in Greece in May. In move intended to pave way toward normalisation of ties with Saudi Arabia, Turkish court 7 April suspended case in absentia of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder suspects, deciding to transfer it to Saudi Arabia; human rights groups heavily criticised move. President Erdoğan 28 April visited Saudi Arabia to meet Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (see Saudi Arabia).
Clashes on border with Tajikistan killed one border guard. Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards 12 April exchanged gunfire close to Maksat village in Leilek district, Batken region, in south-western Kyrgyzstan, reportedly wounding one border guard on each side; Tajik border guard next day succumbed to wounds. Head of respective border guard services 12 April reportedly held talks to de-escalate situation. Batken region governor 13 April said Kyrgyz-Tajik talks on border situation ended with agreement to withdraw additional armed forces from both sides and “two sides’ police will take joint control over the border segment crossing the Konibodom-Khujand highway”. Kyrgyz FM Ruslan Kazakbaev and Tajik FM Sirojiddin Muhriddin 14 April held call to discuss border situation; pair “agreed to continue discussions on further steps to resolve border issues”. Mayor of capital Bishkek 14 April announced that Pervomay district court had banned rallies and protests in city centre (allocating three designated areas elsewhere) until 1 Sept 2022, reportedly aimed at preventing “possible mass disorders”.
Clashes on border with Kyrgyzstan killed one border guard. Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards 12 April exchanged gunfire close to Maksat village in Leilek district, Batken region, in south-western Kyrgyzstan, reportedly wounding one border guard on each side; Tajik border guard next day succumbed to wounds. Head of respective border guard services same day reportedly held talks to de-escalate situation. Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region governor 13 April said Kyrgyz-Tajik talks on border situation ended with agreement to withdraw additional armed forces from both sides and “two sides’ police will take joint control over the border segment crossing the Konibodom-Khujand highway”. Tajik FM Sirojiddin Muhriddin and Kyrgyz FM Ruslan Kazakbaev 14 April held call to discuss border situation; pair “agreed to continue discussions on further steps to resolve border issues”.
Islamic State (ISIS) claimed first cross-border attack from Afghanistan, clashes at Kyrgyz border left two dead, and wheat shortages raised concerns over food security in coming months. Amid uptick in activity in Afghanistan since Taliban takeover last year (see Afghanistan), Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) 18 April said it fired ten rockets from Afghan town of Hairatan at military base located in Uzbek border town of Termez in first such assault of its kind; president’s spokesperson next day denied claims, claiming “situation is stable” and calling on citizens to disregard “provocations”. Kyrgyz Border Guard Service 5 April reported incident between Uzbek border guards and Kyrgyz nationals allegedly attempting to smuggle goods into Uzbek territory on horseback, which resulted in Uzbek guards fatally shooting two individuals. Kazakhstan, major global wheat supplier, 1 April imposed quotas on wheat exports from 15 April to 1 June due to supply disruptions following Russian invasion of Ukraine (see Ukraine); while quotas allow limited exports and Kazakhstan made public assurances it plans to continue regional supply, concerns mounted about potential impact on food security in coming months; Tashkent late March had announced plans to buy 100,000 tonnes of wheat from Kazakhstan between April and July to ensure domestic food security, with imports mainly from Kazakhstan making up about 35% of domestic wheat consumption. Meanwhile, govt 8 April delivered over 34 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Ukraine in further signal of support for country’s territorial integrity.
Armed groups launched attacks on security forces, social leaders remained at risk, and supporters of left-wing presidential hopeful Gustavo Petro faced intimidation. Armed group violence targeting security forces continued. Notably, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents 8 April allegedly ambushed military vehicle in Ituango municipality, Antioquia department (north west), killing three soldiers; 13 April allegedly killed four soldiers during attack in Meta department (centre). National Liberation Army (ELN), along with FARC dissidents, 30 April allegedly launched attack on army in Norte de Santander department (north east), which left two civilians and two military injured. Members of criminal organisation Clan del Golfo 19 April reportedly bombed military vehicle in Frontino town, Antioquia, killing six soldiers. Army 29 April killed six suspected FARC dissidents in Puerto Rondon town, Arauca department (north). UN Human Rights Office 13 April urged govt to launch investigation into military operation in Putumayo department (south), which reportedly killed four civilians 28 March. According to civil society group Indepaz, six massacres (murder of three or more persons) took place across country 2-24 April, killing 22 in total; Indepaz 24 April said at least ten social leaders and six ex-FARC combatants killed during April. Earlier in month, International Red Cross 1 April designated six non-international armed conflicts in Colombia: three among armed groups and three between armed groups and state. Following reported irregularities during March legislative elections, National Registrar 12 April said more than one million votes not tallied in initial count, raising concerns about forthcoming presidential vote scheduled in May-June in case of disputed election. Election-related incidents targeted left-wing candidates. Namely, VP candidate Francia Marquez, front-runner of left-wing presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, 4 April declared far-right group Aguilas Negras threatened her three times during month; unknown group 15 April also attacked Bogotá office of Colombia Humana, one of parties supporting Petro. Meanwhile, International Court of Justice 21 April ruled Colombian activities in Nicaraguan marine zone violated Nicaraguan sovereignty and ordered Colombia to stop interfering in Nicaragua’s waters.
Authorities imposed state of emergency to address drug-related violence, and series of prison riots erupted. President Lasso 29 April declared 60-day state of emergency in Guayas, Manabí and Esmeraldas provinces, involving curfews and deployment of some 9,000 security forces, to address drug-related violence. This is second time since taking office last year, Lasso is using emergency powers to curb violence, while violent deaths and crimes allegedly connected to drug trafficking continue to rise. Notably, leadership dispute among prisoners 3 April sparked riot in El Turi prison, Cuenca city (south), which reportedly left over 20 inmates killed; prison riots also erupted in subsequent days, including 5 April in Latacunga, Machala, Esmeraldas and Santo Domingo cities, and 25 April in El Inca prison in capital Quito, which left 15 inmates injured. Ecuadorian court 22 April requested former President Rafael Correa be extradited from Belgium; move follows court’s eight-year sentence on Correa for bribery in 2020, and Brussels granting political asylum 19 April to Correa, who has been living in his wife’s native Belgium since 2017.
President Maduro met with civil society platform, Mexico talks with opposition remained on hold, and two governments renewed diplomatic engagement with authorities. President Maduro 5 April received leading members of Foro Cívico civil society platform and – separately – leaders of moderate opposition Alianza Democrática; decision to meet harshly criticised by some as lending legitimacy to Maduro, questioned by some of Foro’s own members. Foro Cívico leaders insisted they did not have time to seek approval from associated organisations and therefore attended as “citizens”. Letter addressed to U.S. administration published 14 April, which called for more flexible approach to sanctions and contained some signatories linked to Foro Cívico, provoked further hostility. Meanwhile, Mexico talks still on hold by end of the month. Despite apparent disagreements within ruling party over appointment of new slimmed-down Supreme Court, ruling party-controlled National Assembly 26 April proceeded with nominations, named 20 overwhelmingly pro-govt magistrates to country’s Supreme Court (TSJ), dashing hopes on part of some in opposition for a more balanced court; TSJ judges 27 April appointed U.S.-sanctioned Gladys Gutiérrez as Court’s new president. Non-governmental organisation Foro Penal 29 April denounced detention of 240 political prisoners. International Criminal Court (ICC)’s Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan 1 April agreed to set up office in capital Caracas to resume in-country investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Venezuela since Feb 2014; 20 April announced he would seek court’s authorisation to continue investigation, despite govt’s request for deferral. Meanwhile, strategy adopted by U.S. and allies to diplomatically isolate Maduro’s govt appeared to be losing momentum. Notably, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández 18 April announced plans to restore full diplomatic relations, while Portugal’s next head of mission in Caracas will seek accreditation as ambassador, according to diplomatic sources, breaking with EU members’ policy of keeping relations at level of chargés d’affaires.
Steps to tackle endemic corruption continued apace, former President Juan Orlando Hernández’s formally extradited to U.S., and transport workers launched one-day strike. Authorities 21 April extradited former President Hernández to U.S. on drug-trafficking and weapons charges after Constitutional Chamber of Supreme Court 6 April rejected defence appeal, and 15 magistrates of Supreme Court 12 April unanimously authorised extradition. Hernández 22 April appeared for first time before U.S. judge, who read charges against him. Judge 8 April also authorised U.S. extradition request of former National Police Head Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, accused of overseeing Hernández’s drug-trafficking operations; Bonilla’s defence 11 April appealed decision, but Supreme Court 20 April confirmed extradition. National Defence Minister José Manuel Zelaya 3 April confirmed National Interinstitutional Security Force’s participation in arresting more than 12 Hondurans wanted in extradition by U.S. on drug-trafficking charges; Security Minister 6 April commented “surgical job” needed for fighting organised crime and corruption. UN 27 April said technical evaluation mission to assess possible establishment of International Anti-Corruption Commission due to arrive in Honduras 9 May. Meanwhile, transportation carriers 7 April launched nine-hour strike blocking main traffic avenues to protest rising fuel prices and demand state subsidies; President Castro immediately rejected demand to meet protestors because “stopping circulation is an illegal act punishable by law and represents a boycott of my government”. Castro and transport union 12 April signed agreement, including fixing tariffs and subsidies. Some transport representatives 19 April briefly blocked streets in capital Tegucigalpa, protesting against sanctions for increased prices. Administrators of national system of aqueducts and sewers 13 April warned Tegucigalpa faces humanitarian crisis due to water scarcity; UN World Food Programme 19 April sounded alarm about country’s worsening food security. Congress 20 April unanimously repealed tax-free Zones for Employment and Economic Development (ZEDEs), said they undermine national sovereignty. Laura Dogu 12 April became first U.S. ambassador to Honduras since 2017. President Castro 25 April announced state of emergency in Colón department (north) after three unknown men previous day reportedly killed three police officers.
Authorities arrested scores of suspected gang members following surge in gang violence in March, prompting concerns locally and internationally over citizens’ rights. Following most lethal killing spree in March, which prompted imposition of state of emergency 26 March, authorities took number of steps to tackle gang violence which drew concerns about citizens’ rights. Legislative Assembly 5 April approved changes to criminal code, imposing ten to 15 years imprisonment for reports that could be interpreted as sharing messages coming from gangs; Association of Journalists of El Salvador immediately expressed concern and described it as “gag measure”. Numerous other rights groups condemned govt’s legislative measures; notably, NGO Human Rights Watch 8 April expressed concerns that “sweeping legal amendments” since late March “violate basic due process guarantees and children’s rights”. Authorities continued to arrest suspected gang members during month. Parliamentarians 19 April passed law to build new jails and 24 April renewed state of exception for 30 more days. Bukele 27 April announced over 20,000 alleged gang members arrested since state of emergency. Head of Police Workers Union Marvin Reyes 12 April denounced being obliged to reach detention quotas. Bukele 5 April threatened to stop feeding imprisoned gang members if gangs attempted to retaliate. Labour Minister Rolando Castro 28 April said 1 May labour demonstrations banned in light of state of exception. Internationally, U.S. State Department 10 April criticised penal code reform, said “law lends itself to attempts to censor the media (…) and silence critics”, and expressed support for El Salvador’s fight against gangs; President Bukele next day argued current U.S. administration is “only supporting the gangs and their ‘civil liberties’”. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 5 April expressed concern about measures introduced since late March to counter rise in gang violence, said some of those arrested “reportedly been subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”, also expressed concerns about criminal trials held in abstentia and rights of teenagers associated with gangs. NGO Amnesty International 25 April commented govt’s measures to address gang-related killings “have created a perfect storm of human rights violations”.
Amid widespread condemnation of crackdown on dissent, Managua broke relations with Organization of American States, and authorities scored victory in maritime dispute with Colombia. Govt 24 April expelled representative of Organization of American States (OAS) in capital Managua, withdrew its representatives to regional body and said it will no longer participate in any OAS-related activity. Govt also expropriated building where OAS embassy was located, and announced creation of “Museum of Infamy” on site instead. Sec Gen Luis Almagro 27 April said Nicaragua’s move was unprecedented, including during times of worst dictatorships in the Americas. Move follows widespread international condemnation of country’s human rights record, as 38 European Parliament members 4 April sent letter to President Ortega expressing concern about human rights situation, demanding “immediate and unconditional release of the 169 political prisoners”; OAS Sec Gen Almagro same day had also urged international community to “increase diplomatic pressure” on Ortega to end “system of repression and torture”. U.S. State Department 12 April published 2021 Report on Human Rights Practices, denouncing how Ortega “awarded himself a fourth consecutive term” and arbitrarily imprisoned “nearly 40 opposition figures”. Despite international condemnation, repression continued during month. Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners of Nicaragua 5 April said at least 181 political opponents still held in prison for political reasons, some since 2018; regional civil society network Voces del Sur 13 April reported at least 103 attacks on press freedom during March; Parliament 20 April cancelled legal credentials of 25 NGOs; at least 164 have been cancelled since Nov 2018. Meanwhile, Managua scored victory in maritime dispute with Bogotá after International Court of Justice 21 April ruled Colombian activities in Nicaraguan marine zone violated Nicaraguan sovereignty, ordered Colombia to stop interfering in Nicaragua’s waters. Govt 7 April voted against UN General Assembly resolution suspending Russia from UN Human Rights Council (see Ukraine).
Stalemate over political transition continued, while ongoing gang violence triggered health centre closure. Amid ongoing political tensions, U.S. diplomat Barbara Feinstein 6 April met members of so-called Montana Accord (who have proposed two-year transitional plan that includes five-member presidential college and prime minister) in capital Port-au-Prince; members said govt mediation commission, appointed 31 March to seek agreement between PM Henry and Montana Accord members, was formed unilaterally, rendering it illegitimate. Representatives of two political organisations 11 April withdrew backing for PM Henry, held meeting with members of Montana Accord to seek agreement on proposed transitional govt. Gang violence persisted through month. International humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders 1 April temporarily suspended operations at emergency health centre in Port-au-Prince’s impoverished commune Cité Soleil due to violence. Authorities 5 April arrested prison director, police officer and court clerk for allegedly releasing imprisoned gang leader Ti Samy in exchange for bribes in northern coastal city of Fort-Liberté. Police 16 April killed two members of “5 Secondes” gang in firefight in Port-au-Prince’s Martissant neighbourhood; police next day arrested two more gang members. Gang 400 Mawozo 24-26 April clashed with rival gang Chen Mechan in turf war over six neighbourhoods in and around Croix-des-Missions, Port-au-Prince; Haitian Civil Protection Agency 27 April reported clashes left at least 20 civilians killed, with nearly two dozen wounded and thousands displaced. Meanwhile, former Colombian soldier Mario Antonio Palacios, extradited from Panama to U.S. in Jan, 4 April pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to kill or kidnap late President Moïse; mandate of Judge Merlan Belabre, who was overseeing investigation into Moïse’s assassination since 4 March, expired 25 April; no judge in Haiti overseeing investigation into Moïse’s assassination by month’s end.
High levels of criminal violence persisted, recall referendum confirmed President López Obrador as head of state, and authorities detained thousands of irregular migrants. In Guerrero state (south), prosecutor’s office said two gunmen launched attack in coastal resort of Acapulco, killing two; police later shot dead assailants. In Michoacán state (centre), clashes between security forces and Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) 2 April killed at least nine in Sahuayo municipality, including one police officer; security forces 4 April killed five suspected CJNG members in Chavinda and Jaconda municipalities. In Veracruz state (east), shoot-out between alleged crime group members and police 5 April killed four in Acultzingo. In Mexico state (centre), unidentified attackers 10-11 April shot dead family of eight in Tultepec municipality. In Chihuahua state (north), unidentified criminal group 16 April killed five, including police officer and migration official in Janos municipality. UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances 12 April called for end to “absolute impunity” over disappearances, said organised crime “central perpetrator of disappearance in Mexico, with varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants”; By late Nov 2021, over 95,000 people registered as disappeared, with average of 8,000 new cases each year since 2017. Senate 27 April approved establishment of National Human Identification Centre to facilitate search for missing persons, albeit without allocating resources. On political front, in first recall referendum in country’s history, 92 per cent of 18 per cent registered voters 1o April voted for President López Obrador to remain in office for six-year term, which supporters viewed as proof of his popularity; opposition dismissed vote as propaganda. Ruling party MORENA 17 April failed to obtain two thirds parliamentary majority necessary to change constitution and implement energy reform, tightening govt control over energy sector. MORENA majority 18 April fast-tracked change in mining law to secure national control over lithium; Senate 20 April passed new mining code. National Migration Institute 26 April said authorities detained almost 6,000 migrants in four-day span, pointing at sharp rise in irregular migration; in just one day, authorities 24 April arrested 330 migrants on Puebla-Orizaba highway.
Violence continued to run high across Israel, West Bank and East Jerusalem, leaving three Israelis and over dozen Palestinians dead, as tensions flared at Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade. In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli police on second Friday of Ramadan on 15 April stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque firing rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades, injuring over 150 Palestinians and arresting near 500, as some Palestinian youths threw stones and fireworks at police; rumours of Israel’s intention to restrict Muslim access spread on social media during month. Further clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in and around Holy Esplanade 17, 21 April reportedly injured dozens. Israeli police 20 April stopped hundreds of ultra-nationalist Israelis from entering flashpoint Damascus Gate. Israeli police again raided Al-Aqsa on third and fourth Fridays of Ramadan 22, 29 April, injuring over 70 Palestinians. In Tel Aviv city, Palestinian gunman from West Bank city of Jenin 7 April killed three Israelis in bar; police next day shot dead suspected gunman in Jaffa, and Israeli soldiers 9 April raided house of gunman and killed Palestinian Islamic Jihad member in Jenin. Elsewhere in West Bank, Israeli forces killed over dozen Palestinians; notably, 2 April killed three Palestinian Islamic Jihad members at Arraba junction south of Jenin; 10 April killed four Palestinians including two women and teenager in separate incidents. Israeli troops 13-14 April reportedly killed at least six Palestinians, including 14-year-old, in Jenin city, Silwad town and Nablus city. Meanwhile, Palestinians 10, 11 April vandalized Jewish shrine Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus. Israel 18 April shot down first rocket fired from Gaza since Jan 2022 and 19 April responded with airstrikes targeting alleged weapons manufacturing site in Gaza; 21 April carried out air raids in central Gaza, while several rockets were launched 20-21 April into southern Israel. Yamina party member Idit Silman 6 April quit govt coalition claiming it was not living up to right-wing values; defection stripped govt coalition of parliamentary majority. Regionally, Israel 9 April reportedly launched airstrike near Masyaf city in Syria’s Hama province; 14 April reportedly fired missiles at Syrian military positions near Syrian capital Damascus (see Syria).
Grain shortage triggered bread crisis, govt struck preliminary deal with International Monetary Fund (IMF), and ambassadors of Gulf countries returned after Oct 2021 diplomatic spat. Amid rising global commodity prices, country mid-month experienced dramatic grain shortage triggered by Central Bank refusal to continue previous policy of providing importers with U.S. dollars at highly subsidised exchange rate; Central Bank reportedly requested govt to sign formal loan agreement that would guarantee repayment of any amount disbursed for this purpose. Govt 12 April decided grain subsidies for importers would be covered by funds govt obtained by selling so-called “Special Drawing Rights”, which it received from IMF in Sept 2021. Lebanese lira continued to decline in value, trading at around 25,000 to U.S. dollar by mid-month; reports mid-month indicated long queues to get bread across country as many bakeries were forced to shut down. Govt and IMF 7 April signed “Staff Level Agreement” for institution to provide $3bn over period of four years; deal comes with stringent conditions and seen as trial that could lead to release of additional funding, particularly some $11bn pledged at 2018 donor conference; observers during month expressed concern about deal being used by govt as electoral ploy ahead of polls in May. Following diplomatic dispute that surfaced in Oct 2021 after then-Information Minister Georges Kordahi made critical comments about Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen’s war – leading some Gulf countries to suspend diplomatic ties – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and internationally recognised govt of Yemen 7 April returned ambassadors to capital Beirut. Boat licensed for 12 passengers carrying at least 60 irregular migrants that was headed to Italy 23 April capsized off coast near Tripoli city after attempted interception by Lebanese Navy; total number of dead unknown while 45 were rescued; passengers accused Navy of ramming vessel, while Navy blamed person steering vessel. Israeli tanks 25 April fired into southern Lebanon in response to rocket fired into northern Israel same day.
Attack on U.S. military base injured four soldiers, govt-aligned militias and Syrian Democratic Forces besieged each other’s positions, and Idlib ceasefire held despite violations. Two explosions 7 April hit U.S. military base Green Village near al-Omar oil field in Deir ez-Zor province, injuring four U.S. soldiers; International Coalition reportedly responded with rocket fire on positions of Iranian-backed militias west of Euphrates. In Aleppo city, regime-affiliated militias besieged People’s Protection Forces (YPG)-controlled al-Ashrafiyyah and Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhoods, preventing entry of food, flour and oil for population of 200,000 people for three weeks; Russian-mediated talks 12 April reportedly failed to defuse crisis. In response, YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) 14 April said they tightened siege on govt-controlled neighbourhoods in Qamishli and Hasakah city in Hasakah province, taking over around ten govt offices in Qamishli and closing highway to govt-run Qamishli airport. Offices of Kurdish National Council in Kobane city, Aleppo province, were reportedly attacked 20 April with Molotov cocktails; U.S. next day condemned attacks. In north east, Turkey continued shelling and drone strikes hitting YPG targets. In Idlib province, March 2020 ceasefire held despite escalating violations. Notably, govt forces 4 April shelled rebel-held Maaret al-Naasan, killing four children; Turkish-backed opposition forces and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham reportedly retaliated with artillery targeting govt positions. Russian warplanes same day reportedly carried out airstrikes in Fulayfil village in Jabal a-Zawiya area. Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu 23 April announced closing of Turkish airspace to Russian planes flying to Syria for three months. In central Syria, Russian airstrikes targeting Islamic State (ISIS) reportedly increased since beginning of month, killing dozens. Low-level ISIS attacks continued throughout month, reportedly killing several govt soldiers and SDF fighters. According to state media reports, Israel 9 April launched airstrike near Masyaf city in Hama province; 14 April reportedly fired missiles at Syrian military positions near capital Damascus. Amid skyrocketing food prices, World Food Programme early month reportedly announced reduction in food assistance in north-western Syria from May.
Talks between U.S., Iran and other world powers to revive 2015 nuclear accord reached one-year mark without breakthrough, while Iran-Saudi Arabia dialogue resumed for first time since Sept 2021. Nuclear talks remained at impasse despite technical elements of framework bringing U.S. and Iran back into compliance with deal all but agreed; as 6 April marked one year since start of talks in Austrian capital Vienna, impasse remained focused on bilateral political issue between Washington and Tehran, namely whether and under what conditions U.S. Biden administration will remove 2019 designation by Trump administration of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as Foreign Terrorist Organisation. U.S. State Dept 26 April indicated that EU coordinator “continues to convey messages back and forth”. Iranian atomic agency chief 6 April confirmed that, in line with timetable agreed with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month, Tehran had provided IAEA with documentation related to agency’s safeguards probe into undeclared nuclear activity; he also indicated “probably the agency’s representatives will travel to Iran for further talks”. Iran 4 April transferred centrifuge part production from TESA Karaj to Natanz facility; IAEA 14 April informed member states that it had put its cameras in place at workshop (though without access to footage) and Iran had commenced activity there. Govt 25 April confirmed fifth round of Iraq-hosted talks with Saudi Arabia, described as “positive”. U.S. 8 April tallied total number of Iran-related sanction designations under Biden administration at 107, of which 86 “have specifically targeted the IRGC-related persons as well as affiliates”. World Bank 14 April issued economic update on Iran, forecasting GDP growth in 2022/2023 at 3.7%, down from 4.1% in 2021/2022, with inflation projected at 37.6%.
Deadlocked govt formation led to unprecedented constitutional impasse, Turkey launched new operation against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and Islamic State (ISIS) stepped up attacks during Ramadan. Govt formation remained stalled after last month’s failed attempts to achieve two-thirds quorum in parliament, leaving country in unprecedented situation that upends constitutional timeline for parliament to appoint president within 30 days of speaker’s election (completed in mid-Jan); constitution requires president to appoint PM. Following Shiite cleric and leader of bloc that won largest share of seats in Oct 2021 parliamentary election Muqtada al-Sadr’s announcement late March that he would give rivals in Shia Coordination Framework 40 days to negotiate with his allies Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Sunni Sovereignty Alliance to form govt, KDP and Sovereignty Alliance 1 April issued statement reaffirming commitment to Tripartite Alliance with Sadr, now rebranded “Saving the homeland” bloc. Hundreds of demonstrators 15 April protested political deadlock in capital Baghdad. Turkish military 17-18 April launched new operation against PKK in northern Iraq dubbed “Claw-Lock”; fighter jets targeted infrastructure and bases used by PKK militants in Metina, Zab and Avashin-Basyan regions; Turkish Defence Ministry next day announced killing at least 19 militants. President Salih 19 April called attack threat to Iraq’s national security and Foreign Ministry 20 April summoned Turkey’s envoy. As part of yearly uptick in attacks during Ramadan, ISIS conducted over dozen attacks against security forces in central regions. Notably, Security Media Cell 4 April announced that alleged ISIS suicide bomber injured at least four soldiers in Nwegeit mountains, Ninewa province, while Iraqi troops killed three militants. Counter-ISIS operations continued throughout month. In Ninewa governorate, suspected Hashd al-Shaabi-linked militant groups 3-4 April launched rockets on Turkey’s Zilkan military base in Bashiqa town; three missiles launched from Hamdaniya district in Ninewa 6 April targeted oil refinery in Khabat district, Erbil governorate. U.S.-led international coalition 8 April announced downing drone targeting Ain al-Assad airbase in Anbar governorate. Unknown attackers 15 April launched explosives-laden drone at Hashd al-Shaabi base in Tal Afar district, which injured one commander, possibly in retaliation for 6 April attack.
Saudi-led coalition and Huthis in Yemen halted cross-border attacks, while Riyadh and Iran resumed talks in Iraq. Huthis halted cross-border attacks into kingdom and Saudi-led coalition stopped airstrikes following 1 April truce between warring parties in Yemen (see Yemen). Iranian Foreign Ministry 4 April reportedly said Iran was ready to resume talks with Saudi Arabia after Iran suspended them in March; fifth round of talks was held 21 April in Iraqi capital Baghdad, making it first time dialogue took place since Sept 2021. Iraqi PM al-Khadimi in interview 30 April expressed optimism for Saudi-Iran ties, saying: “We are convinced that reconciliation is near”. Saudi Arabia 7 April announced it would send ambassador back to Lebanon after Oct 2021 diplomatic spat (see Lebanon). Turkey 8 April announced it would move trial for 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, effectively ending probe; Turkish President Erdoğan 28 April visited Saudi Arabia to meet Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.