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Our monthly conflict tracker highlights three conflict risk alerts in September.
CrisisWatch spotlighted deteriorations in ten countries in August.
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Govt forces increasingly targeted civilians as insecurity remained widespread despite notable reduction in violence in Sahel region. Military committed numerous abuses against civilians, notably ethnic Fulanis. Drone strike in Pognoa Sankoado village (East region) 1 Aug reportedly killed 37 residents; army in following days admitted to accidentally killing civilians in area. Soldiers 4 Aug allegedly arrested and summarily executed 14 civilians in Guilyende village (also East), and 8 Aug executed over 40 Fulani civilians in Tougouri locality (Centre-North region). Govt denied involvement in these killings and 18 Aug condemned calls circulating on social media for ethnic cleansing of Fulani community. In East region, govt-backed vigilantes (VDPs) 10 Aug routed attack by presumed al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) combatants near Otatougou village, killing 11 including one JNIM commander; unidentified gunmen 26 Aug killed at least seven civilians in attack on convoy coming from Boungou gold mine. In Centre-North region, presumed JNIM 4 Aug launched simultaneous attacks in several areas of Bam province, killing four soldiers and nine VDPs; govt forces allegedly killed 34 militants. Also in Bam, explosive device attack 9 Aug killed 15 soldiers near Namssiguia town. Amid lull in violence in Sahel region, jihadists continued to plant explosive devices in attempt to tighten their stranglehold around population centres, notably killing two soldiers in Djamana village 12 Aug. Insecurity increased marginally in North and Boucle du Mouhoun regions further west. Military-civilian convoy 4 Aug hit explosive device between towns of Gomboro (Boucle du Mouhoun) and Zogore (North), leaving three civilians dead. Suspected jihadists 8 Aug killed at least ten, including civilians and VDPs, in Sima village in North region’s Yatenga province. Govt sought to adjust response to insecurity amid public discontent as police 12 Aug dispersed anti-French demonstration in capital Ouagadougou with teargas. After transitional president, Lt-Col. Damiba, 1 Aug held National Defence Supreme Council meeting, Defence Minister Brig. Gen. Aimé Barthélémy Simporé 12 Aug announced military forces would undergo territorial reorganisation to better combat jihadists. Govt 6 Aug dismissed report from daily newspaper Aujourd’hui au Faso that it had agreed to 24-month ceasefire with jihadists.
Ruling party CNDD-FDD leader incited violence against dissenting voices, while hundreds of Burundian soldiers officially deployed to DR Congo. Ruling party CNDD-FDD Sec Gen Révérien Ndikuriyo 2 Aug sanctioned killing anyone who “disrupts” national security as “legitimate”, urged CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure to continue night patrols. Imbonerakure continued to intimidate and harass population, in particular members of political opposition, in general climate of impunity. Notably, Imbonerakure elements 8 Aug killed one Rwandan national en route to visit Burundian family in Mugina commune, Cibitoke province; 13 Aug severely battered two members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) in Gashoho commune, Muyinga province. Fuel shortages in Aug impacted economic activities in major cities, notably economic capital Bujumbura, and heavily affected public transportation systems. After months of denial by Gitega and Kinshasa of any presence of Burundian army in DR Congo amid reports of Burundian forces fighting RED-Tabara rebels in South Kivu province, 600 Burundian troops 15 Aug officially crossed border into South Kivu; military authorities in South Kivu mid-Aug suggested Burundian contingent deployed as part of East African Community’s regional force agreed upon in April to thwart armed group violence in eastern DR Congo; Burundian military 26 Aug however said deployment is part of bilateral agreement between Congolese and Burundian authorities.
Govt forces and Anglophone rebels continued to clash amid resurgence of roadside bombs; jihadists continued attacks in Far North. In North West (NW) region, Anglophone separatist group 9 Aug reportedly lost four men in failed attack in Oku subdivision, and killed two gendarmes in Ndop subdivision; 10 Aug killed gendarmerie commander of Kumbo town (Bui division). Separatists 27 Aug killed two soldiers and one civilian near Nkwambe town (Donga-Mantung division), next day attacked govt forces in areas of Bafut (Mezam division), Dzekwa (Bui division) and South West region’s Eyumojock (Manyu division) using roadside bomb and a rocket-propelled grenade; three soldiers reportedly killed. Some separatist groups in Aug issued orders aiming to move reopening of schools from 5 Sept to 4 Oct in Anglophone regions to observe pro-independence protest anniversaries and mount pressure on govt for talks. Defence ministry 29 Aug said security will be stepped up ahead of school resumption to avoid disruptions. Ethnic tensions in Aug remained high in Wum town, Menchum division (NW) following late-July violent confrontations between Fulani and Aghem ethnic groups. Meanwhile, fresh attack confirmed separatists’ strategy of moving war into Francophone regions: suspected separatists 13 Aug crossed from Bui division into Noun division in West region, killing three including one civilian. Authorities 11 Aug arrested prominent advocate of Anglophone regions’ autonomy, Abdul Karim Ali, on undisclosed charges in Bamenda city (NW). NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) same day accused govt forces of summarily killing at least ten people and carrying out series of other human rights abuses in Anglophone regions between 24 April and 12 June; military next day dismissed allegations, claiming to protect country with “honour and loyalty”. Jihadist insurgency continued in Far North region. In Mayo-Sava division, Boko Haram (BH) insurgents 6 Aug killed one soldier and one civilian in Gogolom village, same day killed three more civilians in Kolofata commune. In Mayo-Tsanaga division, BH 9 Aug killed one soldier in Zeleved village, and 13-14 Aug killed two civilians in Tourou locality. Authorities 14 Aug arrested one gendarme at undisclosed location in Far North over accusations of supplying BH with weapons and ammunition.
Rebels kept up operations in rural areas and President Touadéra continued to move toward constitutional revision despite opposition. Rebels maintained attacks in hinterland despite govt forces and allies’ operations. In Ouham prefecture, presumed Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) elements 1 Aug killed three civilians and one gendarme travelling between Kabo and Moyenne-Sido localities; 6 Aug killed one soldier and injured another in Lady village. CPC-affiliated rebel group 3R 2-3 Aug launched attacks in Nana-Mambéré prefecture, killing six villagers near Baboua town. In Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture, govt 8 Aug imposed night curfew in Ndélé town, fearing attack by CPC rebels coming from Nda town, 300km away in Vakaga prefecture; govt and Russian forces 15 Aug carried out joint operation in Nda after CPC elements were reported heading toward Ndélé. In Haute-Kotto prefecture, Rwandan peacekeepers 14 Aug arrived in Sam-Ouandja town, demanded CPC elements leave within 48 hours; rebels did not comply but no incidents reported. Govt troops 11 and 15 Aug arrested 30 people suspected of cooperating with rebels in Haute-Kotto’s capital Bria. Meanwhile, tensions persisted over Touadéra’s proposed constitutional revision, which could allow him to run for third term in next presidential election. Over 1,000 govt supporters 6 Aug demonstrated in capital Bangui in favour of constitutional referendum; pro-govt gatherings also reported in other cities. Constitutional Court 8 Aug rejected opposition’s petition against draft law on constitutional change, which govt adopted in July. In address to nation, Touadéra 12 Aug announced constitutional referendum, invoking “people’s aspirations”; 26 Aug signed decree setting up committee to draft new constitution, made up of 53 members mostly from ruling party. In response, Republican Bloc coalition of opposition parties and civil society organisations next day gathered hundreds in capital Bangui to denounce Touadéra’s “manipulation” and slide toward “dictatorship”; 31 Aug lodged petition with Constitutional Court against decree.
Transitional authorities signed peace deal with armed groups in Qatar, national dialogue kicked off to immediate delays, and intercommunal conflict flared in south. In Qatar’s capital Doha, Transitional Military Council (CMT) President Mahamat Idriss Déby 8 Aug signed peace deal with dozens of armed groups, whose representatives 13 Aug returned to Chad to participate in upcoming dialogue. Prominent rebel group Front pour l’Alternance et la Concorde au Tchad (FACT) and several others however rejected deal, saying it overlooked their main requests, including adequate representation in national dialogue and political prisoners’ release. Rebel group Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic, which did not sign Doha agreement, 27 Aug claimed killing ten soldiers in northern Tibesti region’s Wouri district, which govt dismissed as “fake news”. Political tensions ran high in lead-up to national dialogue. After PM Albert Pahimi Padacké 4 Aug signed executive order fixing participation quotas, so-called “Harmonisation Committee” gathering civil society groups and political parties taking part in dialogue 8 Aug denounced authorities’ “monopoly” over process, with 1,220 delegates out of 1,360 reportedly stemming from ruling party. Déby 17 Aug signed decree making dialogue conclusions binding and preventing modifications by CMT; decree however failed to declare CMT members ineligible for next elections. National dialogue kicked off 20 Aug, but negotiations delayed by a few days for “technical” reasons. Harmonisation Committee delegates withdrew following 28 Aug presentation of dialogue’s presidium, prompting dialogue president 31 Aug to create ad hoc committee charged with “reinforcing inclusivity”. Behind-the-scenes negotiations to pave way for participation of non-signatory armed groups and some civil society and opposition actors (who boycott process) reportedly ongoing late Aug. Meanwhile, Boko Haram attack in Dabantchali locality (Lac region) 2 Aug allegedly killed two soldiers; ten militants also killed. Herder-farmer conflict continued in south. Nomadic herders and local farmers 7 Aug clashed in Kabbia department (Mayo-Kebbi East region), reportedly leaving many dead. Herder-farmer clashes 9 Aug also killed 13 people in Djongol locality (Guéra region), and 19 Aug killed nine people near Mengalang village (Logone Oriental region). Cattle-related violence 3 Aug also reportedly killed 27 people along Chad-Sudan border in east.
President Ouattara pardoned former President Gbagbo as part of national reconciliation drive; negotiations for release of Ivorian soldiers held in Mali remained stalled. On occasion of Independence Day, Ouattara 7 Aug pardoned former head of state Gbagbo, who faced 20-year jail term over 2011 “robbery” of funds from country’s branch of Central Bank of West African States in economic capital Abidjan. Gbagbo’s party immediately rejected pardon and called for blanket amnesty for all party members convicted in aftermath of 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis, including Gbagbo – which would open the way for him to run for president in 2025 election. Meanwhile, Franco-Ivorian banker and former Minister Tidjane Thiam, 8 Aug returned to Côte d’Ivoire after more than 20 years in exile; Thiam, who fled in 2000 following coup d’état against then-President Bédié, likely harbours presidential ambitions and could be appealing candidate to the youth. Efforts continued to obtain release of 49 Ivorian soldiers who were detained in July upon arrival in Mali to work for UN mission (MINUSMA) contractor. UN Deputy Sec-Gen Amina Mohamed and UN Special Envoy for West Africa Mahamat Saleh Annadif 9 Aug arrived in Côte d’Ivoire to discuss mediation efforts with Ouattara, then went to Mali to discuss matter with military transition’s President Goïta. After holding soldiers for over four weeks, Bamako 12 Aug charged them with undermining state security. Ivorian Army Chief of Staff Gen Lassina Doumbia 25 Aug said “negotiations are continuing” for soldiers’ release.
Amid widespread armed group violence in eastern provinces, hundreds of detainees released in jailbreak, while Burundi officially deployed troops. In North Kivu province, alleged Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels supported by local militiamen 9-10 Aug stormed Butembo central prison, freeing at least 800 detainees; authorities 11 Aug reported two policemen killed during raid, and claimed to have recaptured 250 fugitives. Youths in Butembo city 12 Aug demonstrated to denounce police force’s inability to provide security; armed protesters fired at police, leaving four policemen dead. After UN mission (MONUSCO) left Butembo base following deadly anti-MONUSCO protests in July, clashes 23 Aug erupted at deserted base between army and suspected Mai-Mai militia, leaving two militiamen dead. Suspected ADF combatants 25-30 Aug reportedly attacked six villages in North Kivu’s Beni territory and neighbouring Irumu territory in Ituri province, leaving at least 54 people dead, while many others were kidnapped. In Ituri’s Djugu territory, ethnic Hema “Zaire” militiamen 5 Aug killed at least 22 people in Damas village; in retaliation, ethnic Lendu militiamen from Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) 7 Aug attacked several Hema villages in Djugu, leaving seven Zaire militiamen dead and taking at least 20 people hostage. Also in Djugu, militiamen from CODECO 11 and 16 Aug attacked mining sites, leaving a least 20 people killed; 28 Aug reportedly killed at least six gold miners in Lodjo locality. Meanwhile, in confidential report leaked 4 Aug, UN experts said there was “solid evidence” that Rwandan troops have conducted military operations in eastern DR Congo in support of M23 rebels since Nov 2021 (see Rwanda); during African tour, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 11 Aug said Rwandan President Kagame and Congolese President Tshisekedi had agreed to hold direct talks. Clashes between Congolese forces and M23 rebels 16 Aug broke out in several villages of North Kivu’s Rutshuru territory; group notably targeted Rwanguba hydroelectric power plant site. After months of denial from Kinshasa and Gitega of any Burundian army presence in DR Congo, Burundian soldiers 15 Aug officially crossed into South Kivu province as part of bilateral agreement between the two countries (see Burundi).
Amid renewed Tigray conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia, threat of fresh clashes between govt troops and Tigray forces along Eritrea-Ethiopia border loomed large. Situation highly volatile late Aug at border with Ethiopia’s Tigray region amid resumption of hostilities between Ethiopia’s federal govt and Tigray (see Ethiopia). Notably, senior Tigray official Getachew Reda 31 Aug accused Ethiopia’s federal govt of sending “tens of thousands of troops to Eritrea”, while Addis Ababa same day accused Tigray’s forces of expanding fight to multiple fronts. Previously, after apparent failure of Asmara’s efforts since April to ally with Khartoum, Asmara’s attempts to forge ties with Sudanese subnational actors faced headwinds. After authorities invited high-profile delegation from eastern Sudan, including rebel group leaders who stayed out of 2020 Juba Peace Agreement, to participate in President Isaias Afwerki-sponsored forum on eastern Sudan’s insecurity, Sudanese border police 4 Aug reportedly prevented around 112 delegates from entering Eritrea at Laffa border crossing in Kassala state, citing lack of entry visas; Eritrea has long wielded influence in region, given geographical proximity and potential impact of eastern Sudan’s political and security dynamics on Eritrea’s national security. Meanwhile, foreign ministry 3 Aug criticised U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, accusing Washington of “provocative” attempt to contain China and “deplorable” violation of “norms and provisions of state sovereignty”.
Fighting erupted between federal and Tigray forces, shattering March ceasefire and threatening to derail long-awaited peace talks; conflict will likely spread to new fronts in coming days. Clashes 24 Aug broke out between federal and Tigray forces around Kobo town near Tigray’s border in Amhara region, ending five-month ceasefire. Both sides blamed each other for renewed violence, which quickly escalated. Federal govt 24 Aug claimed it shot down plane coming from Sudan carrying weapons for Tigray forces; Tigray authorities dismissed statement as “lie”, while Sudan’s foreign ministry 31 Aug summoned Ethiopian ambassador over latter’s accusations that Khartoum “violated Ethiopian airspace”. Tigray authorities 27 Aug claimed control of Kobo. Senior Tigray official, Getachew Reda, 26, 30 Aug accused federal govt of launching two strikes targeting civilians in Tigray’s capital Mekelle; 31 Aug accused govt of sending “tens of thousands of troops” to neighbouring Eritrea. Federal govt same day said Tigray’s forces were expanding fight to different fronts, notably near border with Sudan. Meanwhile, UN 30 Aug said aid deliveries into Tigray suspended amid fighting. Earlier in August, tensions had been rising amid lack of progress toward peace talks. Positions had hardened amid disagreement about whether African Union Envoy Olusegun Obasanjo or Kenya’s govt should mediate; furthermore, Tigray’s authorities demanded return of Amhara-controlled Western Tigray to Tigray’s administration and resumption of basic services before talks occur. Conflict in Oromia region between security forces and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) persisted, notably in North and West Shewa Zones, and East, West and Kellem Wollega Zones. Fighting from 4 Aug also occurred in normally peaceful Buno Bedele Zone. Authorities 6 Aug captured senior OLA commander in Ethiopia-Kenya border town, Moyale; earlier in month, authorities arrested intelligence officer in Borena Zone on suspicion of working with OLA, hinting at growing collaboration between OLA rebels and local officials. OLA 17 Aug proposed humanitarian truce to facilitate aid deliveries into drought-stricken region, which federal govt 20 Aug rejected. Elsewhere, clashes 11 Aug erupted between Afar and Somali ethnic militias in Somali region’s Sitti Zone, reportedly displacing thousands. PM Abiy 12 Aug announced completion of third filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (see Nile Waters).
Under mounting street pressure and lack of agreement with regional body ECOWAS over transition’s duration, ruling junta dissolved main opposition coalition, replaced PM and revamped cabinet. Following several anti-junta protests since June, Justice Minister Charles Wright 2 Aug directed public prosecutor’s office to begin legal proceedings against coalition of political parties, trade unions and civil society groups, National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), on charges of “defamation”, “dissemination of false information likely to endanger public peace and security”, and “complicity of murder”. Interim govt 6 Aug dissolved FNDC by decree, citing threat to “national unity, public peace and cohabitation”. Despite regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 15 Aug dispatching official to meet with FNDC in effort to appease tensions, some clashes 17 Aug erupted between law enforcement and youths on outskirts of capital Conakry, reportedly leaving two dead, a few dozen injured or arrested. ECOWAS-appointed mediator, Benin’s former President Boni Yayi, 21-27 Aug visited capital Conakry to rekindle negotiations with junta leaders on transition’s duration and facilitate political dialogue between junta, political parties and civil society; upon departure, Boni said parties will continue discussions “in order to agree on a timetable and content for the transition that is accepted by all”. At ECOWAS’ request, FNDC 26 Aug reportedly suspended protests scheduled in Conakry for 29 Aug and 4 Sept, but maintained nationwide demonstration planned on 5 Sept. Meanwhile, PM Mohamed Béavogui, who has been in Italy since mid-July, 12 Aug said he would return to Guinea once his medical condition improves. Amid rumours that his absence stems from disagreements with interim President Col Doumbouya over transition timeline, latter 20 Aug appointed acting PM Bernard Gomou to permanently fill PM position as Béavogui’s replacement. Doumbouya same day also reshuffled cabinet ahead of first anniversary of 5 Sept putsch that overthrew former President Condé.
Deputy President William Ruto declared president-elect as runner-up Raila Odinga submitted challenge to court. Kenyans 9 Aug voted in mostly peaceful general elections. Police however reported ten incidents on election day. Most notably, Kimilili MP shot and killed aide of rival candidate at polling station in Bungoma county, and unidentified assailants attacked police vehicle carrying election material in Wajir county, leaving two injured. Gunmen also held several people hostage in tallying centre in Wajir, injuring one. Electoral commission agent, who went missing 11 Aug, found dead 15 Aug just outside capital Nairobi. Election was marked by unusually low voter turnout at 65%; election observation missions, including from East African Community, in following days lauded polls as largely free and fair. Electoral commission 15 Aug declared Deputy President and leader of United Democratic Alliance William Ruto president-elect with 50.49% of votes, ahead of Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga with 48.85%. Four of seven electoral commissioners, including Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, same day disowned results alleging “opaque” tallying process, while some protests erupted in Odinga strongholds, notably Kisumu city and Nairobi’s Kibera neighbourhood, with angry supporters throwing stones and blocking roads. Odinga 16 Aug rejected result and announced he would pursue “all legal options” to challenge it; 22 Aug filed petition at Supreme Court, and in following days said he will respect court’s ruling, expected by 5 Sept. Elections in eight electoral areas, including gubernatorial races in Mombasa and Kakamega, held 29 Aug after being suspended due to ballot mix-ups on 9 Aug. Meanwhile, police 1 Aug killed four armed robbers in Lokwar village, Turkana county, after they allegedly attacked village in attempt to steal cattle. Suspected Al-Shabaab militants 4 Aug reportedly injured five police officers at Bamba Ola area in Mandera county. Al-Shabaab 27 Aug issued threat against Kenya saying it would continue attacks until Kenyan troops leave Somalia.
Jihadists launched deadliest attack on military since 2019 and continued southward expansion; govt met with northern armed groups to discuss stalled implementation of 2015 peace accord; and relations with UN mission and France remained tense. Jihadist violence continued in north and centre. In north, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 7 Aug attacked Tessit town (Gao region), killing 42 soldiers in deadliest attack on military since 2019; 37 militants also killed. In Ménaka region, ISGS 7-8 Aug killed 20 Tuareg civilians near Tahabanat village, 12 Aug killed another 20 people in Assaylal village. In centre, suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 5 Aug killed 12 civilians in Bankass circle (Bandiagara region). In Sikasso region (south), suspected JNIM fighters 7 Aug killed five police officers and kidnapped at least one other in complex ambush involving explosive device near Karangana town. Amid stalled implementation of 2015 Algiers Peace Accord, govt 1-5 Aug met signatory groups’ leaders, announced agreement on number of ex-combatants to be integrated into regular forces; signatory alliance of rebel groups Coordination of Azawad Movements however citicised agreement’s lack of clarity regarding role of armed group leaders in future integrated units. Interim President Col. Goïta around 22 Aug appointed another colonel, Abdoulaye Maiga, to act as PM in absence of civilian PM Choguel Maïga. Tensions continued to run high with UN mission (MINUSMA) and France. Germany (largest Western troop provider to MINUSMA) 12 Aug announced suspension of its military mission in country after Bamako in July suspended MINUSMA troop rotations. Govt next day announced resumption of MINUSMA troop rotations under new procedures, prompting Germany to resume military flights to Mali on 18 Aug. Attorney general 14 Aug charged 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested in July – upon arrival to work for MINUSMA contractor – with “attempting to undermine state security” (see Côte d’Ivoire). In 15 Aug letter to UN Security Council, FM Abdoulaye Diop called for emergency UN Security Council meeting to stop French “acts of aggression”, including alleged espionage, and accused France of supporting jihadists; last soldiers belonging to French Operation Barkhane same day left country.
In far north Cabo Delgado province, Islamist insurgents launched attacks in several districts, beheading civilians and targeting security and defence forces in likely attempt to resupply weapons. Insurgents 5 Aug raided security forces’ Namituco base, Meluco district; Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) later claimed to have injured several soldiers and looted ammunition. ISMP 7 Aug claimed attack on security forces’ Namuembe base, Nangade district, reportedly injuring soldiers, seizing weapons and ammunition; unconfirmed reports said two members of police’s Rapid Intervention Unit (UIR) killed in assault. UIR detachment in Litingina town, also Nangade, 19 Aug reportedly withdrew under assault from insurgents, with armoured vehicle from Lesotho Defence Forces destroyed. Insurgent attacks also left several civilians dead, many of them beheaded. Notably, in Macomia district, insurgents 2 Aug beheaded three civilians in Litandacua village; ISMP later claimed attack. In Muidumbe district, insurgents 6-10 Aug raided several villages, killing at least four residents and forcing others to flee; 23-26 Aug beheaded four other civilians near Mandela, Mapate and Muambula villages, and shot dead militia member near Nova Família village. Multiple incidents recorded mid-Aug in Palma district, including 18 Aug attack on Nhica do Rovuma village, 30km from Palma town. In Mocímboa da Praia district, insurgents 18 Aug launched mortars near district capital. In Meluco, insurgents around 24-27 Aug reportedly killed at least three security forces personnel and five civilians in Minhanha village. In Ancuabe district in southern Cabo Delgado, series of insurgent attacks 29-31 Aug left several civilians killed, most of them beheaded, including near border with Chiure district. Rwandan Defence Forces 2 Aug said over 600 civilians held hostage by insurgents had been rescued since Rwandan, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) and Mozambican forces started counter-insurgency operations in Catupa forest of Macomia district in April. SADC 17 Aug renewed SAMIM mandate for 12 months.
French Operation Barkhane completed relocation to Niger amid domestic opposition and persistent jihadist violence in southern regions. Insecurity continued to plague south. In Tillabery region in south west, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 1 Aug killed three civilians in Garbougna village (Gothèye department). Govt forces week of 4 Aug killed eight JNIM fighters near Samira mine (also Gothèye). Explosive device allegedly planted by JNIM militants 11 Aug killed two civilians near Bougoum town (Niamey capital region). In nearby Tahoua region, security forces week of 4 Aug killed four suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) fighters near Tabatol locality (Tillia department). In Diffa region in south east, Multinational Joint Task Force troops week of 10 Aug arrested three suspected Boko Haram splinter Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (JAS) members in Toumour locality (Diffa department); JAS militants 12 Aug attacked civilian vehicles near Garin N’Gawaye town (N’Guigmi department), killing two and abducting 22. French Operation Barkhane 15 Aug completed relocation from Mali to Niger amid widespread domestic criticism. New anti-French coalition of 15 civil society organisations, M62, created 3 Aug; after Niamey authorities banned M62 protest scheduled for 17 Aug against rising fuel prices and French relocation, coalition vowed to organise “peaceful march for dignity” on 18 Sept. Former President Mahamane Ousmane’s opposition party 11 Aug denounced Barkhane redeployment to Niger, as well as country’s security and economic situation. In apparent response to rising pressure, President Bazoum 2 Aug called for greater unity against jihadists, 5 Aug met with opposition leader Tahirou Saidou in rare political move. Govt worked to bolster security apparatus: after cabinet late July extended state of emergency in parts of Tillabery, Tahoua and Diffa regions, defence minister 1 Aug announced plans to increase size of military from 33,000 to 100,000 troops by 2030.
Authorities beefed up security in federal capital Abuja and economic capital Lagos as jihadist, criminal and separatist violence continued in several regions. In North East, govt forces continued operations against Boko Haram (BH) and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). Notably, in Borno state, airstrike 3 Aug killed key ISWAP commander, Alhaji Modu, in Gwoza area; military operations 11-25 Aug reportedly killed about 50 insurgents, including two senior BH and ISWAP commanders, in Sambisa forest and Lake Chad area. Military said 3,407 insurgents and their families 28 July-25 Aug surrendered to govt forces. ISWAP 8 Aug however attacked Auno security checkpoint, 24km from Borno capital Maiduguri, renewing fears that units may still be lurking around city. In Taraba state (also North East zone), unidentified gunmen 12 Aug invaded Karekuka village; fight with residents left at least 19 dead. Govt forces stepped up operations in North West and North Central zones amid violence by criminal groups and jihadists. Notably in North West, air force 6 Aug struck armed groups’ enclaves in Katsina state’s Safana area, killing prominent group leader. Military 13-18 Aug raided armed groups’ camps in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kaduna states, killing unspecified number, including wanted group leader, Sojan Madagwal, in Zamfara. In North Central zone, air force 13-18 Aug bombed armed groups’ camps in Shiroro area of Niger state, reportedly killing alleged BH leader Aminu Duniya. Following attacks in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in July, FCT administration early Aug firmed up security in Abuja and troops 13 Aug raided armed group camps in Dei-Dei and Gwagwalada areas, arresting eight. In South West, Lagos police late July-early Aug placed city’s units on high alert amid fear of attacks by jihadist groups. Insecurity in South East, which security forces blame on secessionist group Indigenous People of Biafra’s armed wing, continued. In Imo state, gunmen 1 Aug killed seven security guards at Orogwe town in Owerri West area, and 5 Aug attacked Agwa police station in Oguta area, killing four police. Explosive device 21 Aug killed army major in Ihiala area, Anambra state. Security forces 15-21 Aug raided armed groups’ camps in Abia, Anambra and Ebonyi states.
Ethiopia announced completion of third filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) despite concerns raised by Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia’s govt 11 Aug said it had launched power production from GERD’s second turbine, next day announced completion of dam’s third filling. Local media 11 Aug quoted head of Sudanese technical negotiating team on GERD, Mustafa Hussein, as saying that Sudan would take “necessary action” if filling of GERD impacted Sudan’s dams or other uses of Nile river water supply. Sudanese govt 18 Aug however denounced “misleading and incorrect information” and urged “cooperation” between impacted countries. Prior to Ethiopia’s announcements, Egypt late July had sent letter to UN Security Council protesting Ethiopia’s intention to continue “unilaterally” filling dam.
UN experts found “solid evidence” of Rwandan military intervention in DR Congo. In confidential report leaked to the media on 4 Aug, UN experts said there was “solid evidence” that Rwandan troops have conducted military operations in eastern DR Congo in support of M23 rebels since Nov 2021. Kigali immediately denied accusations, while Kinshasa 5 Aug demanded Kigali take “responsibility for the instability” in eastern DR Congo. During visit to region, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 11 Aug met with President Kagame in capital Kigali and discussed “credible reports” indicating that Rwanda continues to support M23 rebels; Blinken same day said Kagame and Congolese President Tshisekedi had agreed to hold direct talks over fighting in eastern DR Congo.
Deadly protests over rising cost of living erupted across country, leaving two dozen dead; President Bio accused political opposition of insurrection. Protests over rising inflation and fuel crisis 10 Aug broke out in capital Freetown and elsewhere, with some protesters demanding Bio’s resignation; demonstrations turned violent as protesters clashed with security forces, reportedly leaving six police officers and at least 21 civilians dead in capital Freetown, Kamakwie town and Makeni city. In response, govt same day announced nationwide curfew and 10-11 August cut off internet access. Bio 12 Aug claimed deadly protests were orchestrated by political opposition attempting to overthrow his govt.
Al-Shabaab killed over 20 in first major assault in capital Mogadishu since President Mohamud returned to power; emerging political dispute in South West and Jubaland states could provide early test for Mohamud to prevent discord with federal member states. Al-Shabaab militants 19 Aug launched complex attack on Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least 21 during 30-hour siege; Mohamud in following hours declared “all-out war” against group. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab’s late July incursion into Ethiopia brought about swift reaction to stymie movement. Ethiopian airstrikes 29 July-7 Aug targeted multiple locations in Somalia for first time in years, and Ethiopian troops early Aug reportedly deployed around Doolow town in Gedo region to prevent militants from crossing over into Ethiopia. Ethiopian military officials around 2 Aug also visited Beledweyne and Baidoa cities for security discussions with Somali actors. Govt forces operation targeting Al-Shabaab in Mataban and Mahas districts of Hiraan region also picked up in Aug, supported by U.S. airstrikes that killed at least 17 militants 9 and 14 Aug. Govt forces 15 Aug said they captured group’s stronghold outside Mahas town in Hiraan. On political front, PM Hamza Barre 2 Aug unveiled 75-member cabinet, with most members belonging to Mohamud’s Union for Peace and Development Party. In line with Mohamud’s determination to combat Al-Shabaab beyond military means, former top Al-Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow was appointed religion minister. Parliament 7 Aug approved cabinet as Al-Shabaab fired mortar shells near govt complex in Mogadishu. State-level term extensions likely to form early challenge for Mohamud’s govt. In South West state, President Abdiaziz Lafta-Gareen, who argues state parliament extended his term by one year until Dec 2023 in order to align with its own elections, faced growing opposition; several prominent politicians in July formed new grouping, South West Salvation Council, to oppose term extension and demand elections in Dec 2022. Jubaland’s parliament 21 Aug also extended its administration by one year, pushing prospective elections back from Aug 2023 to Aug 2024. Mohamud 25-29 Aug travelled to Puntland state’s capital Garowe for discussions with Puntland leadership about its relations with federal govt.
Protests over upcoming electoral cycle turned violent, leaving at least five dead. After mediation led by clan elders mid-July collapsed, failing to resolve impasse between govt and political opposition over sequencing of upcoming elections, opposition 11 Aug held nationwide demonstrations demanding presidential election be held as planned in Nov; President Bihi has insisted on holding political association election before presidential election, while opposition UCID and Waddani parties have maintained that no other ballot can precede presidential election. Clashes between security forces and protesters left five to seven people killed and 100 injured in capital Hargeisa, Burco and Erigabo cities. Bihi later same day said majority of those injured were security forces “who were attacked with clubs, metal bars, and stones”, pledged to “confront” violent protesters, while opposition leaders said some deaths occurred after security forces opened fire on demonstrators. Six foreign diplomatic missions, including U.S., UK and EU, immediately condemned “excessive use of force” by security forces. Grouping of prominent business leaders in following days attempted to mediate between govt and opposition, but failed to bridge gap.
Signatories of 2018 peace deal approved roadmap to extend transitional govt’s rule beyond Feb 2023 amid fierce criticism; deadly fighting displaced tens of thousands in Jonglei and Upper Nile states. Signatories of 2018 peace deal 4 Aug signed roadmap further extending transitional period beyond its anticipated Feb 2023 end; extension provides additional 24 months for transitional govt to address outstanding tasks of agreement, with elections to take place in Dec 2024 and transfer of power in Feb 2025. Troika (U.S., UK and Norway) 3 Aug denounced move citing lack of “inclusive consultation” with “all relevant parties”. Non-signatory armed groups, other opposition movements and civil society actors including People’s Coalition for Civil Action 6 Aug created joint platform to oppose transitional govt and “categorically” rejected term extension. Despite criticism, Council of Ministers 5 Aug approved roadmap and submitted it to parliament for approval. Meanwhile, nearly 22,000 troops from former rival groups 30 Aug integrated into unified armed forces; integration of first batch of former rebels originally scheduled to take place in 2019 according to peace deal. Violence continued in Mayom county, Unity state, as nascent rebellion of Gen. Stephen Buay faced security operations along Sudan’s border. Notably, alleged govt forces 7 Aug reportedly executed four of Buay’s men after Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces same day arrested them in Sudan’s al-Fula town and handed them over to South Sudanese authorities. Defence Minister Angelina Teny 9 Aug condemned executions and said investigations were under way. Meanwhile, Kitgwang faction – which broke away from VP Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) – continued to face internal challenges. Kitgwang leader, ethnic Nuer Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, 9 Aug removed ethnic Shilluk Gen. Johnson Olony as his deputy. Clashes between Gatwech- and Olony-aligned groups 14-15 Aug broke out in Tonga town and neighbouring Panyikang county, Upper Nile state. Fighting by 18 Aug spread to Jonglei state as Olony’s reinforcements clashed with SPLM/A-IO in Diel military base (Pigi county), before advancing to New Fangak county. UN humanitarian office 19 Aug reported that fighting had displaced around 27,000 people since 14 Aug.
Amid ongoing anti-coup protests, impasse between military and civilian actors persisted; violence persisted in Darfur, and tensions with Addis Ababa ran high amid renewed Tigray conflict in Ethiopia. Civilian actors in Aug failed to agree on path forward after de facto head of state, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in July said army will step aside to make way for civilian govt. Meanwhile, al-Burhan-backed Sudan People’s Call initiative, led by religious Sufi leader Al-Tayeb Al-Jid, 13-14 Aug held roundtable conference gathering political figures affiliated with former ruling National Congress Party, as well as Egyptian, Saudi and African Union diplomats; political coalition Forces for Freedom and Change and grassroots network Resistance Committees boycotted event. Participants recommended would-be established Supreme Military Council (announced by al-Burhan in July) be given supreme authority, including sovereign powers, with technocratic cabinet assuming executive duties. Al-Burhan 25 Aug announced major reshuffling of military leadership. Anti-coup protests continued throughout month. Notably, security forces 6-7 Aug injured 23 protesters in capital Khartoum and twin city Omdurman; 25 Aug reportedly injured 18 and arrested at least 38 in Khartoum; 31 Aug killed one during protest march headed for Khartoum. Meanwhile, govt said Chadian gunmen 3-4 Aug killed 18 Sudanese herders in Beir Saliba and Ardeiba border towns, West Darfur state; Chadian military 6 Aug expressed regret, claimed nine Chadians also killed (see Chad). In North Darfur state, gunmen 15 Aug reportedly killed at least eight, kidnapped nine near Kutum town, allegedly in retaliation for killing of two in same area. Tensions increased with Addis Ababa amid renewed Tigray conflict in Ethiopia (see Ethiopia). Ethiopia’s forces 24 Aug claimed to have downed plane from Sudan carrying weapons for Tigray’s forces; Ethiopian ambassador to Sudan 29 Aug said Khartoum had “violated Ethiopian airspace”, prompting foreign ministry 31 Aug to summon ambassador. Addis Ababa 31 Aug accused Tigray forces of expanding fighting to new areas, notably border with Sudan, raising fears of conflict spilling into country.
Suspected jihadists launched new attack against govt forces in northern region. Alleged jihadists 22 Aug launched complex attack involving improvised explosive device on army patrol in northern Blamonga village, Kpendjal prefecture (Savanes region); after exchange of fire with soldiers, assailants retreated across Burkina Faso border. Local media reported one soldier dead and 12 injured.
Opposition parties joined forces against President Museveni, and latter conducted several security sector changes. Cooperation agreement signed in July between ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) and opposition Democratic Party (DP), and subsequent appointment of DP leader Norbert Mao as justice minister, prompted backlash. Four opposition parties – National Unity Party, Forum for Democratic Change, Justice Forum and People’s Progressive Party – and pressure group People’s Front for Transition of four-time presidential candidate Kizza Besigye 1 Aug signed their own alliance, vowing to join forces in general elections set for 2026. Amid opposition to Mao-Museveni alliance from within DP, police 16 Aug arrested eight party members, including one MP, for allegedly storming party headquarters in capital Kampala. Meanwhile, in rare move, Museveni 4 Aug promoted over 770 senior police officers in possible acknowledgment of police forces’ key role in holding out against anti-govt protests; same day replaced commander of presidential guard after only seven months in office, along with other changes; and 18 Aug undertook major military reshuffle, including appointing senior officers into army’s reserve forces and foreign service. In Northern region, Adilang sub-county authorities 23 Aug said attacks by suspected Karimojong cattle rustlers in Agago district over past week killed three people and forced 200 families to flee. Following deadly shooting by UN peacekeeping troops at Uganda-DR Congo border post in late July, police early Aug announced deployment of standby force to border with DR Congo to monitor tensions. Ugandan and South Sudanese militaries 6-7 Aug signed agreement to share intelligence on South Sudan rebels alleged to be hiding in Uganda and Uganda rebels alleged to be operating in South Sudan.
Political tensions heated up months away from 2023 general elections as nomination fees sparked resistance, while ruling party supporters unleashed violence on political opposition. Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) around 19 Aug imposed hefty nomination fees to contesting candidates in 2023 general elections, with presidential candidates called to part with $20,000 each, up from $1,000 paid in 2018. ZEC also introduced exorbitant fees to access voters’ roll. Main opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) lawmaker, Tendai Biti, 20 Aug accused elections management body of working in cahoots with ruling party Zanu-PF to shut democratic space ahead of elections, called for street protests to demand reversal of exclusionary tariffs. Suspected Zanu-PF supporters around 23-24 Aug unleashed violence on CCC members, reportedly abducting one of them, in Mashonaland East province’s Wedza and Seke districts as part of efforts to prevent CCC leader, Nelson Chamisa, from addressing his supporters. Ahead of 27 Aug parliamentary by-election for Gokwe-Kabuyuni parliamentary seat (Midlands province), alleged Zanu-PF supporters 25 Aug attacked CCC team during campaign rally in Gokwe area, wounding 13; also assaulted and seriously injured four journalists covering CCC campaign rally. CCC Deputy Chairman and lawmaker Job Sikhala denied bail 30 Aug for fifth time since being detained in June on charges of inciting violence.
U.S. killed al-Qaeda chief in first high-profile strike since Aug 2021 withdrawal, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) targeted Taliban and religious minorities, and Taliban clashed with Pakistani forces. U.S. President Biden 1 Aug confirmed U.S. had killed al-Qaeda chief, Ayman al Zawahiri, in drone strike in capital Kabul on 31 July; Washington accused Taliban authorities of violating Feb 2020 Doha agreement by providing sanctuary to al-Zawahiri, while Taliban countered U.S. conducted strike without informing them. Reports surfaced 5 Aug of widespread protests across country condemning strike. Leaked U.S. intelligence assessment 13 Aug argued al-Qaeda had not regrouped in country. Over 3,000 tribal and religious leaders 19 Aug gathered in Kandahar, including Taliban Emir Hibatullah Akhundzada, to condemn strike and call on neighbours not to cooperate with such “violations of Afghan sovereignty”, as reports suggested U.S. and Pakistan neared deal on U.S. use of Pakistani airspace for future operations. ISKP continued recruitment and lethal attacks. In early Aug, security forces arrested several ISKP cells; recent arrests of Tajiks indicated ISKP’s inroads in recruiting ethnic minority groups. ISKP attacked Hazara civilians in lead-up to Ashura religious commemorations, with three attacks 3-6 Aug. ISKP suicide bombing 11 Aug killed senior Taliban-affiliated cleric Rahimullah Haqqani. ISKP 18 Aug claimed attack on Sufi mosque in Kabul. Insecurity persisted elsewhere. New armed group Watandost Front published video claiming attack on 1 Aug against Taliban forces in Herat province (west). Unknown assailants 8 Aug killed senior Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Omar Khalid Khorasani in IED blast in Paktika province (east). High Resistance Council for Saving Afghanistan – anti-Taliban resistance group formed in May – 15 Aug held virtual meeting attended by Ahmad Massoud, leader of National Resistance Front (NRF), which resulted in issuance of group’s constitution; NRF also announced its basic principles after meeting. Pakistani and Taliban forces 8 and 22 Aug clashed in Kunar (east) and Paktya (south east) provinces. Taliban defence minister 17 Aug rejected possibility of compromise on Wakhan Corridor amid social media rumours Pakistan might attempt to encroach on thin strip of Afghan territory in order to gain direct access to Central Asia.
Ruling Awami League (AL) adopted austerity measures amid energy crisis, triggering violent protests and deepening tensions with opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Govt 5 Aug increased fuelled prices by as much as 52%, citing global energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (see Ukraine). In response, student organisations and BNP held rallies across country, including in capital Dhaka on 5 Aug, accusing govt of mismanagement of power and energy sectors. Activist 3 Aug died of his injuries after police 31 July fired during demonstration in Bhola district; five people, including police officer, 7 Aug were injured during BNP demonstration in Chapainawabganj district; clashes between BNP supporters and AL’s student wing 12 Aug injured at least 20 people in Pirojpur district; police same day intervened in clash between demonstrators from BNP’s student wings and AL supporters in Feni city, injuring at least 20. Hindu temples were vandalised in Pirojpur, Bagerhat and Kurigram districts on 1, 6 and 9 Aug, respectively. In first ever visit by UN human rights chief to country, Michelle Bachelet 14-18 Aug visited Dhaka and Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar; Bachelet 17 Aug called for more dialogue between political parties, urged govt to amend controversial laws like Digital Security Act to ensure “compliance with international human rights laws”, and asked govt to investigate allegations of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings; Bachelet also expressed concern over rising anti-Rohingya rhetoric. In Ukhiya camp in Cox’s Bazar, shootout between two rival groups 1 Aug killed Rohingya man. Unknown assailants 10 Aug shot dead two Rohingya community leaders in Ukhiya camp; locals held insurgent group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army responsible. Thousands of Rohingya refugees 25 Aug gathered in camp to mark fifth anniversary of Myanmar military’s crackdown. Marking occasion, UK and Germany 25 Aug confirmed they would formally join The Gambia’s case against Myanmar at International Court of Justice, while the U.S. announced plans to “significantly increase” resettlement of Rohingya, including refugees in Bangladesh. UN Special Envoy to Myanmar Noeleen Hezyer 22-25 Aug met govt officials, including PM Hasina, and visited Rohingya camps; Hezyer called for increased aid for Rohingya response.
China’s live-fire drills around Taiwan spilled over into Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), while Tokyo and Beijing held first high-level dialogue since Feb 2020. Five ballistic missiles – fired during Chinese live-fire drill in retaliation for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit (see Taiwan Strait) – 4 Aug landed in Japan’s EEZ in first ever such incident; Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi described event as “grave matter”, while China said it did not recognise Japan’s EEZ. Despite incident, China and Japan 17 Aug held high level security talks in first such dialogue between two countries since Feb 2020; both countries agreed to continue communication. As of 28 Aug, 113 Chinese vessels had entered Japan’s contiguous zone during month, including 16 identified in Japan’s territorial waters. Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force 3-9 Aug conducted military drill during U.S.-led RIMPAC joint exercise, which saw Izumo aircraft carrier and Takanami destroyer participate. PM Fumio Kishida 10 Aug appointed veteran Liberal Democratic Party legislator Yasukazu Hamada as new defence minister in Cabinet reshuffle; Hamada served as defence minister 2008-2009 under former PM Taro Aso.
Relations with China remained tense over military activity on unofficial border, while separatist groups in north east conducted sporadic attacks on security forces. During routine talks on confidence-building measures in eastern Ladakh, govt and China 4 Aug discussed measures to prevent violation of each other’s airspace; India complained that Chinese fighter jets came very close to Line of Actual Control (undemarcated de facto border between countries) and violated 10km buffer zone during 24-25 June annual exercises, prompting Indian Air Force to scramble its fighter jets. FM S. Jaishankar 18 Aug said: “At the moment [the India-China] relationship is going through an extremely difficult phase after what China did at the border”. Meanwhile, in Assam state (north east), authorities 3 Aug demolished madrasa in Morigaon district that was being run by mufti with alleged links to Ansarul Islam, banned Bangladesh-based militant outfit. In Arunachal Pradesh state (north east), militants allegedly belonging to armed separatist groups United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) and Yung Aung faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) 9 Aug fired shots from across Myanmar border and injured one security forces personnel. In Tripura state (north east), militants of armed separatist group National Liberation Front of Tripura 18 Aug ambushed patrol party of security forces and killed one security forces personnel on India-Bangladesh border. National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) 2 Aug observed 25 years since signing “Indo-Naga” ceasefire agreement; deadlock persists between govt and group over issues of separate flag and constitution, as group alleges that New Delhi reneged on Framework Agreement signed in Aug 2015.
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) marked three years since India revoked its special status, as controversy persisted over electoral register. Ahead of third anniversary on 5 Aug of India’s revocation of J&K’s special status and arrest of local leaders across political spectrum, govt 4 Aug released data to support its claim that militancy had decreased in last three years. Marking anniversary, Organisation for Islamic Cooperation called for “reversal of all illegal and unilateral actions” by India. In BBC interview, J&K Lt-Governor Manoj Sinha 19 Aug claimed Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of Hurriyat separatist political outfit and Kashmir’s chief cleric, was “neither under house arrest or detained”; Hurriyat refuted claims. Meanwhile, J&K Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar 17 Aug announced that “anyone who is living ordinarily” can be “enlisted as a voter in J&K”, marking change from pre-2019 policy which permitted only permanent residents to vote; Kumar said govt expected 2.5mn new voters – marking 30% increase – which sparked outrage as mainstream political parties accused India’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party of manipulating electoral balance in its favour. In second such act in as many months, China 11 Aug blocked bid by India and U.S. to list Rauf Asghar, deputy chief of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad and brother of group’s founder, as designated militant at UN Security Council; India’s UN envoy protested decision. Security operations and militant attacks continued in J&K. Operation 5 Aug killed one security force and one militant in Kulgam; 10 Aug killed three LeT militants in Budgam district. Militants 4 Aug hurled grenade at non-local labourers in Pulwama district, killing one, and 12 Aug killed another in Bandipore district; 11 Aug sought to storm army camp in Rajouri district, leaving four militants and two soldiers dead; 13 Aug killed one security personnel in grenade attack in Kulgam district; 14 Aug killed one security force in Srinagar. Militants 17 Aug attacked two Kashmiri Pandits in Shopian district, killing one; Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), group of Pandits living in Kashmir, same day appealed to all Pandits to leave region.
U.S. and North Korea traded barbs over latter’s nuclear weapons program, while Pyongyang rejected Seoul’s new denuclearisation initiative amid U.S.-South Korea military drills. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 1 Aug criticised North Korea’s expansion of “unlawful nuclear programme” and accused Pyongyang of preparing seventh nuclear test; Pyongyang 3 Aug responded that it would “never tolerate” U.S. criticism on weapons tests and called Washington “kingpin of nuclear proliferation”. Visiting South Korea, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 4 Aug pledged to support North Korea’s denuclearisation based on “extended deterrence”; North Korean state media 6 Aug denounced Pelosi as “worst destroyer of international peace and stability”. UN concluded in confidential report leaked 4 Aug that North Korea made preparations for nuclear test during first six months of 2022. In first elaboration of North Korea policy since March election, South Korean President Yoon 15 Aug asserted that denuclearisation was prerequisite for peace in North East Asia and proposed “audacious initiative” to provide economic aid and development in exchange for Pyongyang’s credible steps toward denuclearisation. Kim Yo Jong – sister to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – 18 Aug dismissed proposal as “nonsense”, saying denuclearisation “cannot be bartered” for economic cooperation and proposal was rehash of policies of conservative govt in power 2008-2013. Remarks came after South Korea, U.S. and Japan 8-14 Aug held joint missile warning and tracking exercises. North 17 Aug fired two cruise missiles from Onchon (west coast). Yoon same day said high-level talks “should not be a political show” but lead to “substantive peace”. South Korea and U.S. 22 Aug commenced largest joint exercise in years. Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un 11 Aug declared end to COVID-19 outbreak, which many local traders interpreted as sign that cross-border trade with China could soon restart. South Korean FM Park Jin and Chinese FM Wang Yi 9 Aug pledged to pursue “two-plus-two” talks and increase high-level communication on range of issues; dispute over U.S.-supplied missile defence system deployed in south 11 Aug resurfaced, however, as Beijing sought limits on its deployment. South Korean prosecutors 19 Aug raided presidential archive as part of investigation into former Moon administration’s repatriation of two North Korean fishermen in 2019.
Deadly clashes between regime and armed groups persisted amid uptick in assassinations in urban areas, while regional body ASEAN lamented regime’s “limited progress” on plan to resolve crisis. Military and allied militias conducted village raids throughout month in northern Chin State, southern and western Sagaing region, northern Magway region and across Kayin State, Kayah State and Tanintharyi region, with local defence forces putting up resistance. Notably, more than dozen local defence forces in Dry Zone (centre) launched second combined offensive during month, reportedly inflicting significant army casualties. Month saw uptick in assassinations in urban areas: from 1-7 Aug, underground cells assassinated five long-serving pro-military Yangon state ward administrators and military killed three top underground cell leaders in Mandalay city. Local defence forces 21 Aug massacred eight members of family in Magway Region in apparent case of mistaken identity; defence force in Mandalay 23 Aug mistakenly killed married couple when targeting police officer with similar name. Tensions remained high between military and ethnic armed group Arakan Army (AA) with clashes escalating following deadly 13 Aug AA attack on military in Rathedaung township, Rakhine State; parties clashed several times in Maungdaw township, on border with Bangladesh. Kachin Independence Army 8 Aug launched significant attack, seizing regime outpost near Sezin village, Hpakant township, and two nearby outposts reportedly controlled by Shanni Nationalities Army; military next day deployed helicopter gunship and two fighter jets. As of 24 Aug, fighting had killed at least four civilians and displaced some 3,000 residents. On international front, regional body ASEAN 3 Aug held foreign ministers’ meeting without regime representation. Joint communique 5 Aug lamented “limited progress” and “lack of commitment” from regime to implement five-point consensus and recommended ASEAN summit in Nov assess progress to guide next steps; regime same day insisted ASEAN refrain from interference in “internal affairs.” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov 3 Aug visited capital Naypyitaw in first ever bilateral visit to Myanmar, likely intended as signal of support for regime. Regime 24 Aug detained former British Ambassador Vicky Bowman and husband Htein Lin, former political prisoner, for alleged household registration error pending trial in Sept.
Govt announced date for general election in Nov, which sparked haggling among ruling coalition parties over seat-sharing arrangements. Cabinet meeting 4 Aug scheduled parliamentary and provincial elections for 20 Nov; 84 parties applied to Election Commission to contest polls by registration deadline on 16 Aug. Five-member ruling coalition 5 Aug established task force to determine by 16 Aug seat-sharing arrangements for upcoming polls, to ensure ruling parties do not contest same constituencies. By end of month, however, task force was unable to find agreement due to parties’ demands outnumbering available seats on offer; all five parties 25 Aug presented their claims, which cumulatively totaled 234 directly elected House of Representatives seats – far above 165 total seats on offer. Leftist members of coalition reportedly considered merger to increase their bargaining power.
Election Commission inflicted major setback to former PM Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, while Khan faced terrorism charges amid escalating rhetoric against military and officials. In case pending since 2014, Election Commission 2 Aug unanimously found Khan’s PTI party guilty of receiving prohibited funds from foreign nationals and foreign-based companies, also found Khan had filed submissions on party funding that were “grossly inaccurate and wrong” for five years. Calls from ruling party lawmakers that Khan be barred from public office grew louder after Khan 2 Aug announced he would contest nine constituencies in 25 Sept by-elections for seats of 11 PTI parliamentarians who had resigned from national assembly; petitions will be decided in court. In worrying sign of rising tensions, Khan and PTI social media activists amplified criticism of military high command. Military’s media arm 5 Aug condemned “false propaganda and insensitive comments” following deaths of six high-level military officers in helicopter crash on 1 Aug. Tensions further escalated as authorities 9 Aug arrested and charged with treason Khan’s Chief of Staff Shahbaz Gill after Gill previous day called on army’s rank and file to refuse “illegal orders” from high command. Khan 20 Aug accused military of backing Sharif govt and police of torturing Gill; authorities next day charged Khan under anti-terror laws for threatening two top police officials and female judge who authorised Gill’s police detention. FM Hina Rabbani Khar 27 Aug criticised Khan for holding anti-govt rallies during ongoing monsoon rain and floods that have submerged large parts of country, affecting 33mn people and claiming more than 1,000 lives. Negotiations between Pakistani authorities and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) suffered setback when bomb blast 7 Aug killed four TTP leaders in Paktia province; suicide attack 9 Aug killed four soldiers in North Waziristan. Reports indicated potential TTP comeback in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province: inspector general 12 Aug alleged militants reached Swat district from Afghanistan. Militants targeting vehicle of PTI provincial lawmaker 6 Aug killed four in Lower Dir; 13 Aug killed two soldiers in Dir; 16 Aug shot dead two police constables in Tank district.
Insecurity persisted in south amid jihadist activity, clan violence and fighting between armed forces and communist militants. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, military 5 Aug killed gunman Khamhed Akan Kambal of Daulah Islamiyah-Hassan Group, allegedly linked to Islamic State, and arrested another member in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province. Police 16 Aug arrested former barangay chairman and two cohorts suspected of connections to Islamic State-linked Daulah Islamiyah-Maute Group in Marantao municipality, Lanao del Sur province. Gunmen 30 Aug killed police chief and his driver and wounded three others in Ampatuan town. Two rival clans 10 Aug clashed in Macabual town, Pikit municipality, killing five, including four members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) factions, and displacing 100 families; police and MILF deployed peacekeepers and emissaries to contain violence. Militant surrenders continued during month. Notably, five Abu Sayaff Group (ASG) fighters 3 Aug surrendered in Talipao municipality, Sulu province; 13 ASG members 5 Aug surrendered in Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan province; and two ASG members surrendered 11 Aug in Isabela city. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued; violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north claimed at least 17 combatant and civilian fatalities and six injured. Provincial Local Govt Unit of Davao Occidental (Mindanao) and 10th Infantry “Agila” Division 18 Aug officially declared province “insurgency free”. Govt forces 22 Aug initially reported gunfire and boat explosion around Samar Island that allegedly killed Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, leaders of Communist Party; as of late month, military did not confirm deaths. President Marcos Jr. 12 Aug swore into office 80 members of Bangsamoro Transition Authority few months after his election as president. In Marawi city, Lanao del Sur province, Congressman Zia Alonto Adiong 15 Aug called on President Marcos Jr. to immediately establish Marawi Compensation Board to grant financial aid for 2017 Marawi siege victims, including 85,335 internally displaced people and those whose properties were damaged during fighting.
China conducted minesweeping and training exercises, while regional body ASEAN announced intention to proceed with Code of Conduct negotiating text. Chinese navy 13 Aug commenced five-day minesweeping drill in South China Sea (SCS) with brigade including Type 082-II minesweepers Hejian and Chishui. China’s Shandong aircraft carrier battlegroup 24 Aug commenced training exercises. ASEAN FMs 5 Aug called for “maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation” in SCS during foreign ministers’ meeting, and announced aim to conclude second reading of Single Draft Negotiating Text for Code of Conduct by end of 2022. Taiwanese FM Joseph Wu 9 Aug warned China’s ambitions go beyond Taiwan, said it is “determined to link the East and South China Seas to the Taiwan Strait so this entire area would become its internal waters”. Australian Air Force chief Robert Chipman 22 Aug said Australia would continue surveillance operations in SCS despite “recent spate of unsafe incidences”, alluding to May confrontation between Australian and Chinese jets.