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CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

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.

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October 2021

Global Overview

Our monthly conflict tracker warns of four conflict risks in November.

  • Tigray forces could advance on the Djibouti corridor or launch an assault on Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, with further devastating consequences for the country's stability and communal relations.
     
  • In Sudan, deadly crackdowns on tens of thousands of protesters opposing the military coup could foment splits in the military and lead to a violent escalation.
     
  • A battle for Yemen’s Marib city looms after the Huthis made breakthroughs in the last contiguous bloc of territory held by government-aligned forces.
     
  • Amid stifling of dissent, President Ortega’s controversial bid for a fourth term in Nicaragua’s general election on 7 November could fuel further political instability and isolation.


CrisisWatch also highlights deteriorations in eleven countries in October.
 

  • The investigation into Lebanon’s August 2020 port explosion sparked deadly sectarian clashes in the capital Beirut, in a troubling reminder of the 1975-1990 civil war.
     
  • A surge in jihadist violence in central Mali killed dozens of “Donso” militiamen.
     
  • In Bangladesh, a wave of anti-Hindu violence killed seven people and heightened acrimony between the ruling party and the opposition.
     
  • Gang-related violence and abductions peaked in and around Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, fuelling strikes and mass protests.
     
  • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republika Srpska leadership took steps to undermine federal institutions, sparking the worst political crisis in twenty years.
     

We also noted an improvement in Western Sahara. The appointment of Staffan de Mistura as the new UN secretary-general’s personal envoy for the region, after a two-year search, could re-energise the peace process.
 

Aside from the 70+ conflict situations we regularly assess, we tracked notable developments in Brazil, Ecuador and Eswatini.


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 October 2021 CrisisWatch Digest on Ethiopia here.
  • View the October 2021 CrisisWatch Digest on Lebanon here.
  • View the October 2021 CrisisWatch Digest on Somalia here.

Africa

Nile Waters

Efforts to resolve water dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan remained at standstill. Sudanese diplomatic source 9 Oct reportedly told Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm that AU’s Democratic Republic of Congo Presidency had not yet set date for resuming negotiations on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute. Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati 11 Oct said negotiations were “almost frozen” and “international communications [on the matter] do not live up to our ambitions” in apparent reference to Sept UN Security Council statement calling for resumption of AU-led talks. Ethiopian foreign ministry 14 Oct said Addis Ababa was ready to resume talks under AU auspices. In address to international water conference in Egyptian capital Cairo, Egyptian President Sisi 24 Oct called for “balanced and legally binding agreement” to be reached as soon as possible, citing Egypt’s “almost exclusive dependence” on Nile waters.

Burkina Faso

Islamic State affiliate launched deadly attacks on civilians in northern Sahel region as jihadists continued to consolidate presence in east and expand westward. In Sahel region (north), presumed Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 1-2 Oct killed 13 people including internally displaced persons and seized livestock in Oudalan province’s Markoye department. Unidentified assailants 29 Oct ambushed mining convoy in Seno Province, leaving two missing. Meanwhile, air force mid-Oct conducted air strikes on ISGS positions in Sahel region’s Seno province for first time since Aug; military also claimed air and ground operations against al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants in Sahel region, reportedly killing 30 in Yagha province 1 Oct, and another ten in Soum province next day. In Centre-North region, presumed JNIM 4 Oct attacked military camp in Sanmatenga province’s Barsalogho department, leaving 14 soldiers dead; three militants reportedly killed. In Boucle du Mouhoun region (north west) unidentified gunmen 31 Oct attacked police station in Sourou province, killing five policemen; subsequent clashes reportedly left 15 assailants dead. In Cascades region (south west), spate of jihadists attacks, which started in Sept, continued in Comoé province. Notably, presumed JNIM 5 Oct clashed with VDPs in Mangodara department, one VDP and two militants reportedly dead; IED attacks 2 and 11 Oct killed four soldiers in same department. In East region, JNIM and affiliates week of 9-15 Oct abducted several civilians in separate attacks; 11 Oct killed two volunteers fighting alongside security forces (VDPs) in ambush in Kompienga province’s Madjoari department. Jihadist gains in east reportedly pushed displaced communities to negotiate their return with militants, and led to defections among VDPs. President Kaboré revamped armed forces, notably appointing new military chief of staff 6 Oct and new defence minister 14 Oct.

Mali

Jihadist violence escalated further, notably in centre, with dozens of “Donso” militiamen killed; tensions ran high with international partners including over transition roadmap. In Mopti region, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 6 Oct killed at least 16 soldiers in complex ambush involving explosive device in Bandiagara district; military claimed at least 15 militants also killed. JNIM militants and Bambara “Donso” militiamen 20 Oct clashed in Mopti’s Djenné district; at least 50 Donsos reportedly killed, 80 wounded and one captured. In neighbouring Ségou region, JNIM-affiliated Katiba Macina 6 Oct clashed with Donsos in Niono district, allegedly killing at least 28. Suspected jihadists also kept up attacks in northern regions. Notably, explosive device 2 Oct killed UN peacekeeper in Kidal region’s Tessalit district. Unidentified gunmen 6 Oct killed two civilians in Diré district, Timbuktu region. Presumed Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 14 Oct killed two police and one civilian in Ansongo district, Gao region. Govt and French forces also accused of abuses against civilians. In Mopti’s Djenné district, military 5 Oct reportedly killed at least three ethnic Fulanis and tortured local imam; French Operation Barkhane 18 Oct allegedly killed unarmed woman in Timbuktu’s Gossi area. Meanwhile, French troops in coordination with U.S. and Malian forces 7 Oct killed JNIM-affiliated Ansarul Islam commander Oumarou Mobo Modhi in Mopti region. Barkhane airstrike 16 Oct killed JNIM-linked jihadist group Katiba Serma leader Nasser al-Tergui at border between Timbuktu and Mopti regions. During visit to Bamako, chair of regional body ECOWAS, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, 17 Oct urged interim President Goïta to uphold junta’s commitment to hold elections by Feb 2022. Interim authorities 24 Oct however said they would confirm election date after national consultations in Dec, and next day expelled ECOWAS envoy over “actions incompatible with his status”. Relations with France continued to deteriorate. Bamako 5 Oct summoned French ambassador to Mali to express “indignation and disapproval” after French President Macron earlier same day said French army will not “fill in for the non-work…of the Malian state”.

Niger

Jihadists continued attacks on civilians and state forces in south west, fuelling displacement and worsening food crisis. In Tillabery region (south west), suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 3 Oct killed six civilians in Tera department; 5 Oct killed two civilians including Gassa village chief in Tillabery department; and 11 Oct stormed mosque in Banibangou department, leaving ten dead. Jihadists 17 Oct also attacked police post in Tera department, killing three police officers. Amid sustained efforts by President Bazoum to bolster relocation plan in region, local NGO Cluster Protection Niger said recent violence caused displacement of over 800 people in Tera department 4 Oct and another 150 in Tillabery department 9 Oct. UN humanitarian agency (OCHA) 1 Oct warned of rising food insecurity in Tillabery region due to farmers’ inability to cultivate lands and surge of food prices amid violence; recorded around 600,000 food insecure in region. In neighbouring Tahoua region, suspected bandits 10 and 12 Oct robbed two businessmen, raising fear of insecurity spilling over from neighbouring Nigeria’s Sokoto state. Violence dropped in Diffa region (south east) in Oct; suspected jihadists 12 Oct however abducted four people. Several security incidents reported in Maradi region (south); notably, unidentified gunmen 4 and 6 Oct abducted six civilians and seized livestock in Madarounfa department. Amid tense relations with Bamako since Malian military took power, Bazoum 6 Oct met leaders of main Malian armed groups signatory to 2015 Algiers peace agreement; rapprochement risks further aggravating diplomatic feud. “Pandora papers” investigation released 8 Oct alleged former Nigerien presidents including Bazoum’s predecessor Issoufou illegally awarded mining licences to Russian businessmen presumably as part of money-laundering scheme; accusations could heighten tensions within ruling party, including Bazoum’s inner circle potentially using allegations to reduce Issoufou’s influence.

Cameroon

Violence in Anglophone regions continued unabated, with riot erupting after killing of five-year old girl in South West; jihadist violence persisted in Far North. In South West (SW), after govt soldier 14 Oct opened fire on private car at checkpoint in Buea town, killing five-year-old girl, reportedly after driver refused extortion attempt, riot erupted; thousands immediately gathered to protest military abuses, lynched soldier; incident intensified community tensions between Anglophones and Francophones across country and on social media in subsequent days. Also in SW, insurgents continued to resort to IEDs, including 20 Oct at Ikiliwindi, near Kumba city. Earlier in month, Anglophone separatists 1 Oct enforced “lockdown” (general strike and curfew) and held parades in North West (NW) and SW regions to mark self-proclaimed “Independence Day”. Violence continued in NW. Notably, clashes 1 Oct left two separatist fighters and two govt soldiers killed in Nkambe town; separatist-planted IED same day destroyed army truck in Oku town, leaving unknown number of casualties. Unidentified assailant 5 Oct fired shots in Matazem village near border with French-speaking West region in vicinity of visiting PM Ngute, sparking panic, leaving no casualties. Also in NW, separatist fighters 6 Oct killed bike rider in Bui division for breaching lockdown imposed during PM Dion Ngute’s visit to region late Sept-early Oct; 21 and 24 Oct attacked govt forces using IEDs and assault rifles with unspecified number of deaths in Ngie and at Belo and Oku towns respectively. Meanwhile, govt forces same day burnt houses in Luh village, and 7 Oct in Kumbo town displacing civilians; 13 Oct killed four separatist fighters and burnt more houses in Bui division. Pro-govt Fulani militia 17-19 Oct burnt several houses in Wum, NW, killing seven civilians. Governors of regions bordering Lake Chad 3-4 Oct met in capital Yaoundé to discuss countering jihadist insurgency. Jihadist violence continued in Far North with govt forces killing over 15 insurgents 1 Oct and insurgents killing seven civilians 7 Oct in Achighachia, Mayo Tsanaga Division.

Central African Republic

Despite President Touadéra’s unilateral ceasefire with rebel groups, violence across country persisted. Fighting pitting army and international allies mainly against Return, Rehabilitation and Reclamation (3R) rebel group in west and Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) rebel group in centre-east continued. In west, presumed 3R rebels 4 Oct killed three Russian forces in Bombo town, Mambéré-Kadéï prefecture, two rebels also dead; rebels 11 Oct reportedly killed five Russian paramilitaries near Banga village, also Mambéré-Kadéï; clashes reportedly left three rebels dead. Rebels 15 Oct attacked army position near Ngaoundaye town, Ouham-Pendé prefecture, killing three; army blamed 3R rebel group. In centre-east, rebels 7 Oct attacked army post near Bambari town, Ouaka prefecture, leaving two soldiers dead, rebel casualties unknown. Fighting in and around Bria town, Haute-Kotto prefecture, 11-12 Oct reportedly left three soldiers, two UPC rebels and foreign paramilitary dead. In centre-east, rebel group 5 Oct attacked combined commercial and humanitarian convoy at Matchika village near Bambari town in Ouaka prefecture, killing at least 30 civilians; govt 7 Oct accused UPC group but UPC denied involvement. In south, army and UPC insurgents starting 14 Oct fought for control of Alindao town, Basse-Kotto prefecture, with rebels partly controlling town by month’s end. Meanwhile, President Touadéra 15 Oct declared unilateral ceasefire in fight against rebel groups, complying with key demand of international partners; in response, rebel groups agreed to comply with ceasefire if govt respects pledge. Govt forces, international paramilitaries and rebel groups however all violated ceasefire in following two weeks; notably, international paramilitaries 16-17 Oct reportedly killed at least seven civilians in Benzambe village, Ouham prefecture. UN human rights experts 27 Oct expressed concern at recent abuses against civilians by international “private military and security contractors”. On political front, Justice Minister Arnaud Djoubaye Abalene 1 Oct presented National Commission of Enquiry report into abuses committed in 2021, which found rebel groups responsible for most incidents but confirming recent UN findings that national army and international paramilitaries also responsible for numerous abuses; report calls for all suspected soldiers to face justice and suspected international paramilitary forces to be expelled.

Chad

Opposition took to street against military rule, while transitional authorities moved ahead with preparation of national dialogue. In capital N’Djamena, security forces 2 Oct violently dispersed opposition coalition Wakit Tama’s march against continued military rule, leaving dozens injured according to Wakit Tama, an assessment contested by the authorities. Another march took place 9 Oct despite police ban: security forces again clamped down on protesters, injuring several and arresting dozens before releasing them same day; following march, authorities 10 Oct raided office of Les Transformateurs party in N’Djamena, arresting a Wakit Tama coalition member, and 11 Oct arresting three Wakit Tama leaders before releasing them next day. Special Committee on dialogue with armed groups, in charge of resolving disagreement between armed groups and authorities on preconditions for talks, 1 Oct held first session; committee officials 18 Oct travelled to France and Egypt to meet armed group representatives; several representatives 27 Oct expressed willingness to join dialogue but set preconditions, including amnesty. Also, committee in charge of organising national dialogue launched local consultations in many provinces throughout Oct.

Burundi

Sporadic violence continued, notably in centre, UN decided to appoint special rapporteur on human rights, and Kinshasa arrested dozens of suspected Burundian rebels. Unidentified assailants 10 Oct killed two military in exchange of fire in Murumvya province. Inhabitants of Cibitoke province 14-17 Oct discovered around a dozen mutilated bodies in or near Rusizi river; in response, President Ndayishimiye 18 Oct sent delegation to area to discuss security situation with provincial governor. Govt 20 Oct handed over 11 suspected members of Rwandan dissident group National Liberation Front (FLN) to Kigali; Rwandan intelligence chief Gen Vincent Nyakarundi welcomed move, but said hundreds more insurgents present in Burundi’s Kibira forest. UN Human Rights Council 8 Oct voted to appoint special rapporteur on human rights in Burundi, following work of UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (2016-2021) whose final report was released in Sept. DR Congo authorities 5 Oct arrested over 30 alleged Burundian rebels in South Kivu province and 10 Oct claimed to have killed same day two Burundian members of RED-Tabara armed group; RED-Tabara 11 Oct denied claim.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Violence persisted in east, notably at hands of suspected ADF rebel group, and President Tshisekedi confirmed appointment of head of electoral body despite criticism. Suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels continued attacks in Ituri province, killing dozens and reportedly kidnapping scores between 1 and 18 Oct. Notably, assailants 1 Oct attacked Komanda village; local civil society group said seven killed and blamed ADF. Presumed ADF 9 Oct attacked Mambelenga village, reportedly leaving six dead, and 12 Oct attacked same area, reportedly leaving at least two dead and dozens missing. Also in Ituri, army 2 Oct launched offensive against armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) at Lipri village, Djugu territory; 21 civilians reported dead. Suspected CODECO continued attacks including burning and pillaging villages in Ituri’s Djugu territory 18 Oct. Meanwhile, in North Kivu (NK) province, suspected Mai Mai militia 9 Oct attacked army post near Beni city, army same day said eight attackers killed; unidentified assailants 15 Oct shot and killed park warden in Virunga National Park. National Assembly 14 Oct approved tenth extension of state of siege in eastern provinces, which sees army take on key public roles. Court in Bunia 15 Oct sentenced seven military, including five colonels, to prison for corruption. Meanwhile, long-running dispute over head of electoral body peaked as National Assembly 3 Oct appointed electoral expert Denis Kadima; move followed failure by religious organisations – called on to offer opinion – previous day to agree on common candidate, with Catholic and Protestant churches disapproving of Kadima. Parties of prominent opponents Moïse Katumbi and Vital Kamerhe criticised Kadima’s appointment, saying he was too close to President Tshisekedi. Tshisekedi 22 Oct however signed ordonnance, confirming Kadima’s appointment, along with 12 members of electoral body; Constitutional Court 26 Oct swore in new electoral body with Kadima as head; opposition however refused to send delegates and boycotted session.

Uganda

Bomb blasts killed two in or near capital Kampala; army further deployed to Karamoja sub-region as deadline for voluntary surrender of weapons expired. Bomb 23 Oct exploded in crowded restaurant in Kampala suburb; one reportedly dead and several injured. Islamic State (ISIS) 24 Oct claimed responsibility, while police said attack launched by ISIS local affiliate Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Unidentified individual 25 Oct also detonated bomb in probable suicide attack on bus near Kampala, leaving one dead and several injured; President Museveni later claimed sole casualty was suspected attacker. Police 26 Oct announced arrest previous day of three individuals suspected of involvement in 23 Oct bombing, and alleged “high connectivity” between two bombing attacks. Meanwhile, army stepped up deployment in Karamoja sub-region, where cattle theft has sparked violence in recent months, as 17 Oct deadline for voluntary disarmament expired. Karamoja community leaders 19 Oct agreed on ways to fight cattle theft and improve recovery of stolen stock. Anonymous leaflets threatening violence against local residents distributed throughout Oct in central Masaka region raising concerns about security situation in area in coming weeks and months; latest event follows period of brutal violence in late July-early Aug when unidentified assailants killed over 20 people with machetes in Masaka and Lwengo districts.

Eritrea

Country’s re-election to UN Human Rights Council widely criticised. UN General Assembly 14 Oct re-elected Eritrea to Human Rights Council (HRC) for another three years. NGO Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect same day said election to HRC of “states that have a history of violating human rights and perpetrating atrocities at home and abroad”, including Eritrea, “deeply disturbing”. Prior to election, NGO Human Rights Watch 12 Oct had called on UN member states to “refrain from voting” for Eritrea, citing country’s “abysmal rights records” both at home and in neighbouring Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Ethiopia

Amid escalatory fighting in north, Tigray forces captured more territory in Amhara region and could launch an offensive on capital Addis Ababa in coming weeks; clashes between insurgents and govt forces spiked in Oromia region. Following federal airstrikes 7-8 Oct against Tigray forces positions near Wergessa town in North Wello Zone and Wegel Tena town in South Wello Zone, federal troops alongside allied Amhara forces 11 Oct launched ground offensive against Tigray forces in Amhara region. In subsequent days, clashes caused large number of deaths, and Tigray forces pushed back against assault, capturing towns including Wuchale in Amhara and Chifra on Amhara-Afar border. After moving further southward, Tigray forces 31 Oct poised to take control of Dessie and Kombolcha cities (both Amhara region). In Tigray region, federal air forces 18-28 Oct launched airstrikes on regional capital Mekelle for first time since Addis Ababa pulled out of most of Tigray in June; 20 Oct also bombed nearby Agbe town; govt said it targeted Tigray forces’ facilities, but locals reported civilian deaths. Anti-Tigrayan hate speech increased with TV journalist Mesay Mekonnen 30 Oct calling for all Tigrayans to be placed in concentration camps. Meanwhile, in Oromia region, clashes between insurgent group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and govt forces spiked. Guji Zone saw fiercest clashes, with local officials claiming security forces killed scores of insurgents 2-6 Oct; rebels claimed 700 security forces killed and hundreds more injured in Sept-Oct, mostly in western and southern Oromia. In East Wollega Zone, unidentified attackers 10-11 Oct killed 22 civilians and displaced over 900 households; regional officials blamed OLA, while residents accused ethnic Amhara gunmen. Oromo and Amhara militias 18 Oct clashed in Horo Guduru Wollega Zone. Insecurity persisted in Benishangul-Gumuz region, with unidentified gunmen reportedly killing at least four civilians in two attacks in Metekel Zone 19 Oct. PM Abiy, sworn in 4 Oct for second term, 6 Oct reshuffled govt. After Addis Ababa late Sept expelled seven top UN officials for allegedly meddling in internal affairs, UN Sec-Gen Guterres 6 Oct denounced “unprecedented” act, demanded “evidence” of wrongdoings during UN Security Council emergency meeting.

Kenya

Govt rejected International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgement on maritime border dispute with Somalia, and political jockeying continued ahead of 2022 general elections. Ahead of ICJ ruling on stretch of Indian Ocean disputed with Somalia, Nairobi 8 Oct rejected court’s jurisdiction saying judgement would be “culmination of a flawed judicial process”. ICJ 12 Oct delivered judgement splitting disputed territory between Kenya and Somalia and de facto attributing several Nairobi-claimed offshore oil blocks to Mogadishu; President Kenyatta same day rejected ruling, accusing court of “persistent procedural unfairness” and “denial of the right to a fair hearing”. Ruling could further strain relations between Kenya and Somalia. Meanwhile, competition continued between frontrunners for 2022 presidential election, Deputy President William Ruto from ruling Jubilee party and opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga. Mount Kenya region (centre) emerged as main playing field with support for Odinga increasing across region, where ODM traditionally fares poorly. Meanwhile in Busia town (west), Ruto’s opponents 23 Oct barricaded roads to block his motorcade; riot police dispersed protests and arrested eight. Electoral commission 25 Oct said only 760,000 new voters registered one week before registration ends, far from final target of 6 mn. Army vehicle 12 Oct struck explosive device in Lamu county near border with Somalia, leaving at least six soldiers injured; al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab group same day claimed attack, said 14 soldiers killed. Internationally, Kenyatta 14 Oct met U.S. President Biden in U.S. capital Washington to discuss situation in Somalia and Ethiopia in light of Kenya’s Oct presidency of UN Security Council. Kenyatta 20 Oct lifted COVID-19-related curfew, which had been in place since March 2020.

Somalia

Electoral process inched forward while leadership tussle quietened, ASWJ militia re-emerged in centre, and Al-Shabaab attacks continued notably in capital Mogadishu. Following weeks-long tussle between President Farmajo and PM Roble, leaders 21 Oct agreed to move on and focus on accelerating long-delayed electoral cycle. Upper House elections progressed with Somaliland, Hirshabelle and Jubaland states completing process. By month’s end, only two seats for Galmudug state remained open. More complex Lower House process remained behind schedule due to technical, logistical and political issues, but expected to kick off 1 Nov. Meanwhile, Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a (ASWJ) militia re-emerged in Galmudug state. ASWJ early Oct captured Galguduud region’s Guricel and Ceel Dheer cities along main road to Galmudug state capital Dhusamareb, and Mataban town in Hirshabelle state’s Hiraan region. Galmudug Security Minister Ahmed Moalim Fiqi 7 Oct resigned, claiming Galmudug President Ahmed “Qoor Qoor” had chosen conflict rather than dialogue. ASWJ mid-Oct withdrew from Ceel Dheer and Mataban to concentrate forces around Guricel, leading to fierce fighting with Galmudug and federal forces; senior ASWJ official said 120 people killed in Guricel district 23-25 Oct, while Galmudug state said 16 soldiers killed in three days of fighting; UN 26 Oct recorded at least 100,000 displaced. Al-Shabaab attacks continued in Mogadishu. Notably, suicide vest attack at restaurant in Yaqshid district 12 Oct left at least three people dead. IED explosion same day targeted security forces convoy in Daynile district, leaving intelligence officer and two bodyguards killed. In Hirshabelle state capital Jowhar, IED likely planted by Al-Shabaab 5 Oct targeted members of state parliament returning from celebration of Hirshabelle’s five-year anniversary, reportedly injuring two; attack demonstrates group’s persistent determination to undermine even symbolic govt achievements. Al-Shabaab 30 Oct reportedly killed two soldiers in Bari region. AU Mission in Somalia 25 Oct said it had regained control of Basra area from Al-Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region jointly with govt forces 16-22 Oct. Roble 5 Oct condemned “inhuman and irregular” evictions of Somali nationals from contested areas by Somaliland authorities (see Somaliland). International Court of Justice 12 Oct issued ruling over Kenya-Somalia’s maritime border, sparking Nairobi’s ire (see Kenya).

Somaliland

Authorities evicted Somali nationals from contested areas, prompting tensions with Mogadishu. Authorities early Oct started to expel Somali nationals, primarily Rahanweyn clan members, from Las Anod city in disputed Sool region, arguing deportees were major security threat amid series of unexplained assassinations of officials in area. UN humanitarian agency 4 Oct warned “situation has the potential to stoke tensions and exacerbate vulnerability with profound humanitarian consequences”, while Somalia’s PM Mohamed Hussein Roble next day condemned “inhuman and irregular” evictions. UN refugee agency reported 7,250 displaced by 15 Oct. Deportation order later extended to Erigabo town in disputed Sanaag region, with police reportedly evicting dozens 25 Oct.

South Sudan

President Kiir launched talks with breakaway faction of VP Machar’s party, raising tensions within unity govt; violence continued in south and centre. In Sudan’s capital Khartoum, govt delegation 2 Oct started formal talks with “Kitgwang” faction of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), which broke away from VP Riek Machar’s leadership in Aug. Splinter group – headed by Machar’s ethnic Nuer former military chief of staff, Gen Simon Gatwech Dual, and prominent ethnic Shilluk warlord, Gen Johnson Olony– demanded all govt seats currently allocated to Machar’s party, sought to negotiate integration into national army, and championed ethnic Shilluk territorial claims around disputed Upper Nile state capital Malakal. In response, Machar’s party rejected Kitgwang faction’s claim to any share of its current govt positions and accused Kiir of fomenting division in SPLM/A-IO ranks that led to split. Violence in Tambura area of Western Equatoria state (south) continued as Juba’s order for all armed groups to leave Tambura by 1 Oct unheeded; humanitarian agencies including World Food Programme and World Vision International reportedly evacuated staff from Tambura after gunshots between warring parties 14 Oct. Conflict took on increasingly communal tones, pitting local ethnic Azande, dominant group in state, against local ethnic Balanda; Balanda seen as loyal to Machar’s appointed state governor, Alfred Fatuyo, while Azande forces largely commanded by Fatuyo’s ex-deputy, James Nando, who last year defected from Machar to Kiir’s camp. Violence also ran high in centre. In Warrap state’s Tonj East and Tonj North counties, intercommunal clashes between Thiik, Luachjang and Lou Paher youth communities around 3 Oct reportedly left at least 35 people dead and another 80 injured, and displaced thousands. In neighbouring Unity state, clashes between forces loyal to senior county official and unidentified armed group 6 Oct killed one and injured another seven in Koch county. UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan 20 Oct expressed “alarm and dismay” over “ongoing threats, harassment and intimidation of prominent human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors” by “overzealous security services”, said shrinking space for civil society “undermining efforts to achieve a sustainable peace”.

Sudan

Military takeover upended country’s transition to civilian rule; deadly crackdown on anti-coup protesters could presage splits in military and violent escalation. Head of Sovereign Council, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, 25 Oct declared state of emergency, dissolved Sovereign Council and transitional govt as military forces detained several civilian govt officials including PM Hamdok. Military same day shut down internet access, blocked roads and bridges in capital Khartoum, and stormed state broadcaster’s headquarters in neighbouring Omdurman city. Tens of thousands immediately took to streets in Khartoum to denounce coup; security forces cracked down using live ammunition, reportedly leaving at least seven dead and 140 injured. In following days, demonstrators blocked roads in Khartoum with makeshift barricades and burning tyres, and several sectors went on strike to reject coup, culminating in 30 Oct countrywide protests which saw tens of thousands demand restoration of civilian-led govt amid ongoing internet shutdown; troops killed at least three in Omdurman and reportedly injured at least 245 across country. Hamdok 26 Oct allowed to return home under heavy security; location of most other detained civilian officials remained unknown by month’s end. UN-led and other mediation efforts under way late Oct; possible formation of new transitional govt – likely featuring Hamdok though heavily influenced by military – could prompt backlash from street or sections of military. International actors swiftly condemned coup, with country’s AU membership and World Bank’s aid suspended 27 Oct. Earlier in month, tensions escalated between civilian and military components of transition following Sept’s failed coup attempt and as Port Sudan blockade (led by Beja tribe demanding greater representation under Oct 2020 peace deal) caused shortages. Several groups including faction of Sudan Liberation Movement/Army led by Minni Minnawi and Finance Minister Jibril Ibrahim’s Justice and Equality Movement 2 Oct split from governing political coalition Forces for Freedom and Change. Countrywide protest in support of democratic transition and civilian rule 21 Oct dwarfed pro-military demonstrations held in Khartoum 16-18 Oct. Meanwhile, security forces 4 Oct killed four suspected Islamic State members in raid in Khartoum; one military officer also killed.

Tanzania

Govt cracked down on freedom of speech in moves reminiscent of late President Magufuli’s era; meanwhile, Islamist militants launched attacks in south. NGO Reporters without Borders 7 Oct said police late Sept detained cartoonist Optatus John Fwema in Dar es Salaam city after he shared cartoon critical of President Suluhu Hassan on social media. Police 2 Oct reportedly arrested YouTube news channel Mgawe TV journalists Harold Shemsanga and Ernest Mgawe in Dar es Salaam; police 4 Oct released them. Court case against Freeman Mbowe, leader of main opposition party Chadema, further delayed as Judge Mustapha Siyani, in charge of case, 20 Oct stepped down after Suluhu Hassan 8 Oct appointed him as Principal Judge of High Court. Islamist militants active in northern Mozambique launched cross-border attacks into southern Tanzania, reportedly killing woman in Kiwengulo village 1 Oct and abducting several villagers in Tandahimba district overnight 20-21 Oct.

Mozambique

Amid sustained counter-insurgency offensive, Islamist militants continued attacks in far north; govt forces killed leader of armed dissident Renamo faction. In far north Cabo Delgado province, heavy fighting between govt forces and militants reported 1 Oct in Muidumbe district; no casualty estimates available. In Mocìmboa da Praìa district, pro-govt forces 6 Oct reportedly killed two militants in Limala village, including individual responsible for massacre of 52 civilians in Muidumbe district in 2020. Southern African regional bloc SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) 3 Oct announced death of local militant leader Awadhi Ndanjile in Nangade district late Sept. SAMIM throughout month staged offensives notably in Quissanga district, freeing 47 civilians from militant captivity in Bilibiza and Namuluco villages 13 Oct and capturing five insurgents near Cagemba village 15 Oct; 26 Oct captured seven militants at Quiterajo administrative post in Macomia district. SADC 5 Oct extended SAMIM’s mandate for another 90 days. Despite offensive, Islamist militants continued attacks, killing three civilians and abducting another in Quitico village, Palma district, 1 Oct, and reportedly kidnapping 12 women and two children in Macomia, Meluco and Mueda districts next day. Militants 21 Oct attacked Muidumbe district capital Namacande, and 24 Oct killed three, including two pro-govt militiamen, in Chitama village, Nangade district. Security forces faced new accusations of arbitrary detention and other abuses against civilians. Notably, in Mocìmboa da Praìa, govt forces 6-8 Oct intercepted at least seven boats near Mecungo island, detained passengers and reportedly demanded ransom payment to allow boats to continue their journey; 10 Oct arbitrarily arrested 60 civilians off coast of Matemo island, Ibo district, claimed they were smuggling supplies to Islamist militants; and 26 Oct allegedly killed at least ten civilians off coast of Macomia district. Pro-govt militia 7 Oct captured and executed four young men they accused of being militants in Muatide village, Muidumbe district. Meanwhile in Sofala province’s Cheringoma district (centre), govt forces 11 Oct killed Mariano Nhongo, leader of Renamo Military Junta (JMR), armed dissident faction of Renamo party; Renamo Sec Gen André Magibire next day said party would welcome JMR members who lay down weapons.

Eswatini

Crackdown on new wave of pro-democracy protests left several dead. Amid mounting student mobilisation to demand free schooling, end of absolute monarchy and release of pro-democracy MPs arrested in July, authorities late Sept-early Oct deployed police and military to several schools. In one incident, authorities reportedly fired live ammunition in Tikhuba High School (east) 8 Oct; local pro-democracy NGO Swaziland Solidarity Network also alleged 17 students including seven-year-old child arrested during protests 11 Oct. After police 13 Oct shot and killed bus driver during clashes with protesters demonstrating for better wages in Malkerns town (west), transportation workers joined wider pro-democracy protest movement, blocking several key roads across country; police next day shot and killed individual at roadblock in Mpaka town (centre east). Students 14 Oct stormed and burnt Shewula police station (north east), and govt 16 Oct closed schools indefinitely. UN Sec-Gen Guterres 18 Oct expressed concerns at excessive force and indefinite closure of schools. Security forces 20 Oct cracked down on protests in Mbabane (north west) and Manzini (centre) cities, reportedly killing one and injuring at least 80, including 30 by gunshot. Govt next day banned all protests and reportedly shut down social media platform Facebook. Southern African Development Community 21-22 Oct deployed high-level delegation to country in bid to defuse situation, 23 Oct said King Mswati III had agreed to hold national dialogue; banned opposition party People’s United Democratic Front and coalition of civil society groups and opposition parties Swaziland Multi-Stakeholders Forum immediately rejected move, describing it as “ploy to mislead” mediators.

Zimbabwe

Political tensions ran high as string of attacks against main opposition party and its leader left dozens injured and infighting within ruling party continued. MDC-A faction of main opposition party accused supporters of ruling ZANU-PF party of torpedoing MDC-A leader Nelson Chamisa’s countrywide tour. Notably, in Masvingo province, suspected ZANU-PF supporters 11 Oct reportedly attacked Chamisa’s convoy in Charumbira area, leaving at least five injured, and 14 Oct allegedly beat and kidnapped six MDC-A members in Gutu district on their way back from meeting addressed by Chamisa. In Manicaland province, anti-riot police 19 Oct raided and dispersed MDC-A meeting and suspected ZANU-PF youths later same day shot at MDC-A convoy on outskirts of Mutare city, hitting Chamisa’s vehicle; MDC-A next day denounced “assassination attempt” on Chamisa. In Mashonaland East province, suspected ZANU-PF 24 Oct reportedly attacked MDC-A members in Goromonzi district, injuring four. In Mashonaland West province, MDC-A members 30 Oct reportedly clashed with ZANU-PF members attempting to block Chamisa from addressing villagers in Zvimba district, leaving scores injured. Infighting continued within ZANU-PF, with President Mnangagwa’s legitimacy contested. Notably, rival factions 10 Oct clashed during ZANU-PF meeting in Manicaland province; police next day arrested 20 for alleged involvement in violence. ZANU-PF member Sybeth Musengezi 20 Oct filed application to Bulawayo High Court challenging legality of Nov 2017 election of Mnangagwa as party leader. Meanwhile, MDC-T faction of main opposition party throughout month reiterated call for suspension of 2023 general elections and formation of govt of national unity; notably, MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora 8 Oct threatened to boycott elections unless govt implements electoral reforms. Following ten-day visit to Zimbabwe to assess impact of sanctions on human rights situation, UN Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan 28 Oct called for lifting of sanctions.

Côte d’Ivoire

New political landscape taking shape amid appeasement between main political forces and mounting tensions within each camp; suspected jihadists attacked soldiers in north. In attempt to revive his political career, former President Gbagbo 17 Oct launched African People’s Party - Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI), vowed to “continue politics until his death”; new party’s pan-African ambition contrasts with Gbagbo’s previous ethno-nationalist discourses. Representatives of both President Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) and opposition heavyweight Henri Konan Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) attended PPA-CI’s constitutive congress. Gbagbo late Oct named close allies as PPA-CI’s executive president and sec gen. Pascal Affi N’Guessan, leader of Gbagbo’s former party Ivorian Popular Front, 18 Oct announced his candidacy for 2025 presidential election. Meanwhile, Bédié same day said he would reshuffle PDCI’s executive secretariat to “modernise” party; move comes after PDCI Executive Secretary Jean-Louis Billon in Sept announced his presidential candidacy. Amid tensions within presidential camp, notably between PM Patrick Achi and National Assembly First Deputy Speaker Adama Bictogo, Ouattara 15 October summoned senior party officials to discuss RHDP’s management; Ouattara reportedly plans to reshuffle party, a move that could curb Bictogo’s powers in favour of Achi, who has emerged as one of his potential successors. Meanwhile, unidentified assailants 13 Oct raided military checkpoint in Duékoué department (west), killing two. Suspected jihadists 19 Oct targeted military post in Téhini department (north near border with Burkina Faso), wounding two soldiers; one assailant also killed.

Guinea

Junta leader sworn in as transition’s president and civilian PM appointed. Mamady Doumbouya, leader of military junta that overthrew President Condé in Sept, sworn in 1 Oct as president of transition; in inaugural speech, Doumbouya committed to “reforming the Guinean state”, “fighting corruption” and holding “free, credible and transparent elections” to pave way for return to civilian rule; transitional period’s duration however remains unknown. No head of states from regional body Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) attended inauguration ceremony. Doumbouya 6 Oct appointed civilian Mohamed Béavogui as PM; choice of political newcomer with roots in both central and southern Guinea could help overcome population’s defiance toward politicians and transcend deep-rooted ethno-regional cleavages, but Béavogui’s lack of political clout could hinder his ability to carry out reforms. In move to consolidate his control over armed forces, Doumbouya 12 Oct removed 42 army generals, including some close associates of Condé, and filled in strategic military positions with allies, notably appointing junta’s second-in-command Col Sadiba Koulibaly, as armed forces chief of staff. Meanwhile, in first worrying signs for press freedom since coup, authorities 8 Oct reportedly prevented several privately-owned TV channels from covering Béavogui’s inauguration as PM and special forces that ousted Condé 9 Oct raided private media outlet Djoma Média, allegedly to look for missing state-owned vehicles, leaving two injured including security guard. Union of Private Press Professionals of Guinea 12 Oct accused junta of attempting to “stifle” media. ECOWAS delegation 28 Oct arrived in capital Conakry for third visit since Sept coup.

Nigeria

Amid sustained violence in north, local authorities warned of jihadist expansion into Middle Belt; trial of Biafra separatist leader sparked lockdowns in south. Amid persistent jihadist violence in north east, notably Borno state, military 14 Oct announced death of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi without providing further details; 28 Oct said it had killed ISWAP’s new leader Malam Bako earlier this month. In Niger state (Middle Belt), local govt official 3 Oct said Boko Haram (BH) had taken over multiple villages; Niger’s information commission later confirmed militants’ inroads in state, which borders Federal Capital Territory. Also in Niger state, unidentified gunmen 25 Oct killed at least 18 worshippers and reportedly abducted another 11 at mosque in Mashegu area. Meanwhile, criminal violence continued unabated in north west. In Sokoto state, suspected vigilante group 7 Oct killed 11 Fulani herders in Gwadabawa area; unidentified gunmen next day raided market in Sabon Birni area, leaving at least 20 dead, and 17 Oct reportedly killed at least 49 people in Goronyo area. In Zamfara state, gunmen 5 Oct killed at least 19 in Kuryan Madaro village. Security forces 7 Oct rescued around 190 civilians held captive by armed bandits in Zamfara forest; operation part of weeks-long military offensive in north-western states. Trial of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu on charges of terrorism and treason 21 Oct resumed, was immediately adjourned to Nov; Umuahia and Aba cities in Kanu’s home state of Abia same day on total lockdown as part of months-long “sit-at-home” protest movement in south east calling for Kanu’s unconditional release. In third such attack this year, gunmen 22 Oct stormed jail in Oyo state (south west), reportedly freed all inmates. One year after massive #EndSARS protests against police brutality, notably at hands of now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on brutality and human rights abuses committed by police 18 Oct concluded investigation, granting compensation to 70 victims; thousands around 20 Oct demonstrated across country to commemorate victims of brutal repression against #EndSARS movement.

Asia

China/Japan

New Japanese PM reaffirmed U.S.-Japan alliance and need to increase defence capacity amid ongoing Chinese maritime presence around disputed islands. Following his appointment as new Japanese PM, Kishida 4 Oct stated China uses force to change status quo in region and emphasised need to improve Japan’s missile defence as well as coordination with allies. In call with U.S. President Biden, Kishida next day reaffirmed U.S.-Japan alliance and U.S. commitment to defending disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in East China Sea. Amid heightened tensions in Taiwan Strait, Japanese FM Toshimitsu Motegi same day said Japan will weigh different Taiwan scenarios to “consider what options we have”. In 8 Oct call between Chinese Secretary General Xi and Kishida, Xi said two countries should maintain cooperative relations, “properly handle major sensitive issues” and not threaten each other, while Kishida reportedly raised Senkaku Islands as well as human rights issues. Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party 12 Oct revealed aim to increase defence budget to two percent of GDP. Meanwhile, Chinese and Russian warships 18 Oct conducted joint exercise, passing through Tsugaru Strait between Japanese main island and Hokkaido for first time. Number of Chinese coast guard vessels entering contiguous zone around disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands numbered 86 as of 28 Oct, while four vessels 20 Oct entered Japan’s territorial seas.

Korean Peninsula

North Korea tested ballistic missile and South Korea launched first domestically-designed rocket, while Washington and Seoul mulled declaration to end Korean war. North Korea 18 Oct tested submarine-launched ballistic missile near major east coast naval base of Sinpo, a day before trilateral meeting between U.S., South Korea and Japan on North Korean denuclearisation. Japanese PM Kishida 19 Oct called launch “very regrettable”, while U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim called on Pyongyang to “refrain from further provocations and engage in sustained and substantive dialogue”. South Korea 21 Oct launched 200-ton liquid-fuelled ‘Nuri’ rocket into space in first launch of entirely indigenous design; although launch was successful, rocket failed to place payload in intended orbit. President Moon same day commented “we are now able to freely develop various space launch vehicles” and heralded advent of “Korea space age”; launch follows U.S. decision in May to drop restrictions on South Korea’s missile ranges. Head of North Korean Institute for National Unification 19 Oct said South Korean President Moon’s Sept proposal for declaration ending Korean War would be premature without resolving fundamental issues, such as U.S. troops on peninsula. Reports 20 Oct surfaced, however, that U.S. and South Korea were reportedly in discussions over text of such declaration; U.S. Special Representative Kim and South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk 24 Oct reaffirmed growing focus on declaration. Meanwhile, Chinese customs data released 13 Oct showed China-North Korea cross-border trade more than doubled from Aug-Sept 2021, reaching highest value in over a year in tentative sign of recovery of cross-border trade dramatically reduced during COVID-19 pandemic. China’s UN Security Council representative 22 Oct renewed call for sanctions on North Korea to be eased.

Taiwan Strait

Tensions ran high as China conducted record air incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone, and U.S. and allies conducted large-scale exercises in region. Military activity increased during month. In display of strength, China 1-4 Oct dispatched 149 military aircraft in south west area of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), with 56 jets entering zone on 4 Oct – by far largest daily incursion since Taiwan began publicising data in Sept 2020. U.S., UK, Japan, Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand 2-3 Oct conducted large-scale exercises off Japan’s Okinawa island involving 17 vessels and three aircraft carriers. China 11 Oct reported beach landing and assault drill in Fujian province and 17 Oct reported integrated military-civilian cross-sea exercise using large civilian ferry likely designed to signal growing amphibious lift capabilities. U.S. destroyer USS Dewey 14-15 Oct conducted tenth Taiwan Strait transit of 2021 and with Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg for first time; China 17 Oct said U.S. and Canada “colluded to provoke and stir up trouble”. Meanwhile, political statements did not indicate major changes in policies of China, Taiwan or the U.S.. Taiwan’s Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng 6 Oct warned that by 2025 Chinese military capabilities “would be able to bring the cost and attrition of a full-scale invasion [of Taiwan] to its lowest”. Chinese President Xi 9 Oct said peaceful reunification with Taiwan was “most in line with the overall interests of the Chinese nation”. U.S. President Biden 22 Oct said U.S. would come to Taiwan’s defence in event of Chinese attack; White House subsequently clarified there was no change in U.S. policy. U.S. and Taiwan continued efforts to reduce Taiwan’s international isolation with support from some European countries, despite China’s objections. EU Parliament 21 Oct passed non-binding resolution calling EU to deepen ties with Taiwan, including through investment deal. Taiwan’s FM Joseph Wu 26 Oct began tour of Europe including Bratislava, Prague, Rome and Brussels. U.S. Sec State Blinken 26 Oct issued statement calling for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the UN system.

Afghanistan

Insecurity persisted as Islamic State Khorasan Province launched dozens of attacks, killing scores, and land disputes resurfaced amid dire food crisis across country. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) significantly ramped up its activities against Taliban, carrying out dozens of attacks, including three that caused mass casualties. Notably, ISIS-K 3 Oct killed five civilians attending funeral for Taliban spokesperson’s mother in capital Kabul; 8 Oct killed more than 40 civilians at Shiite mosque in Kunduz province (north); 15 Oct killed at least 50 civilians at Shiite mosque in Kandahar city (south). Additionally, smaller-scale attacks against Taliban security personnel occurred daily throughout country, notably in Nangarhar (east), Kunar (east) and Kunduz (north) provinces. In response, Taliban raided ISIS-K hideouts in Kabul, Parwan (east) and Kunduz (north) provinces, killing ISIS-K members and family members, arrested hundreds of ISIS-K suspects, particularly in Nangarhar (east) and Kunar (east), and increased checkpoints to limit freedom of movement between provinces. Separately, Northern Resistance Front maintained low-level resistance, launching small-scale attacks in Panjshir and Parwan provinces (north). UN warned of unprecedented levels of hunger as drought and economic crisis left half country acutely food insecure, according to 25 Oct UN assessment. Ethnic and tribal tensions increased due to competition over resources. In Daikundi and Ghazni provinces (centre), land disputes led to displacement of ethnic minority Hazaras. In Daikundi province, two-decade-old land dispute between Pashtun tribes of northern Uruzgan and Hazaras of Daikundi resurfaced. On political front, Taliban 5 Oct announced additional govt appointments, including Maulawi Abdul Kabir as Deputy PM for Political Affairs, Maulawi Matiul Haq, son of Younus Khali, as head of Red Crescent, and Nurudding Turabi as his deputy; 28 Oct announced Maulawi Abdul Hakim Haqqani as head of Supreme Court. Internationally, despite meetings with U.S., Russian, Turkish and Indian officials during month, Taliban made little progress to gain formal recognition of govt, and to get country’s financial assets unfrozen by U.S. govt. However, working relations continued with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, China and Kyrgyzstan; relations with Pakistan deteriorated amid border skirmishes after Taliban accused Islamabad of implementing restrictions on transit of goods and people.

Bangladesh

Deadly inter-religious violence during Hindu festival killed seven and escalated tensions between ruling Awami League party and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). As Hindu community observed holiest festival, violent anti-Hindu violence 13-18 Oct erupted across country following circulation of video on social media that allegedly showed desecration of Quran at Hindu temple in Comilla town, sparking clashes with law enforcement and attacks on Hindu temples, businesses and homes; violence killed at least seven, including two Hindus, and injured dozens. Govt deployed paramilitary to 22 of country’s 64 districts, arrested over 450 people, and filed hundreds of cases against protesters, including three BNP leaders and one Jamaat-e-Islami leader. Awami League and BNP blamed each other for violence. Police 21 Oct arrested two Muslim men, one on 21 Oct for allegedly planting Quran in Comilla temple, and one on 14 Oct for allegedly posting first social media video. Attacks on temples continued, including 23 Oct in Chittagong city. Meanwhile, with mandate of Election Commission due to expire 15 Feb 2022, and next general elections due at end of 2023, PM Hasina 4 Oct said new Election Commission would be created through search committee formed by president, adding opposition BNP leader Khaleda Zia and son Tarique Rahman could not participate in polls due to their convictions; BNP Sec 5 Oct said party would not participate in polls under Awami League govt. Violence in run-up to local elections 15 Oct killed four persons in Magura district, including one in Faridpur district 23 Oct, and two in Rangamati district on 16 and 26 Oct. Police 10 Oct detained 16 suspected Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army members in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukiya camps, for role in Sept killing of prominent Rohingya Muslim leader Mohib Ullah in Cox’s Bazar. Attack on madrassa in Ukiya camp in Cox’s Bazar 22 Oct killed six people and wounded at least 20; police arrested 14 Rohingyas suspected of involvement in killing. UN Refugee Agency 11 Oct signed deal to start delivering aid to flood-prone Bhasan Char island; govt said 81,000 refugees would move there in next three months.

India

Farmer protests turned deadly, Maoist violence continued, and talks with China on disputed border stalled. Farmer-led protests turned deadly. In unprecedented incident, convoy of cars reportedly associated with son of deputy home minister 3 Oct ran over and killed four protesters in Uttar Pradesh state; in retaliation, protesters attacked car, killing driver and two members of ruling party; govt next day announced judicial enquiry and police 9 Oct arrested minister’s son. During 16 Oct protest on Delhi-Haryana border 16 Oct, four people tied man to barricades and cut off hand before killing him after he allegedly desecrated Sikh holy book; incident fuelled speculation of subterfuge in attempt to discredit farmer-led protests. Meanwhile, Maoist militant 8 Oct injured security forces member during shootout in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh state (centre). Security forces 12 Oct killed three Maoists and 15 Oct exchanged fire with others in Malkangiri district of Odisha state (east); 23 Oct killed Maoist in Lakhisarai district, Bihar state (east); 25 Oct killed three leaders in Mulugu district of Telangana state (central-south). Tensions with Chinese armed forces along disputed unofficial border known as Line of Actual Control (LAC) briefly spiked early month as both sides came face-to-face and close to clashing in East Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh state, which is claimed by China but controlled by India. Army commanders 10 Oct held 13th round of talks with Chinese counterparts to discuss disengagement and de-escalation of LAC as well as protocols for military patrols of region; foreign ministry 11 Oct claimed “Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals”; continued deadlock means both armed forces – comprising thousands of troops as well as tanks and air defences – would remain in forward areas during upcoming winter months.

India-Pakistan (Kashmir)

Militant group stepped up attacks on non-Muslim migrants in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), triggering mass arrests and heightening tension between India and Pakistan. Militant group The Resistance Front (TRF) claimed responsibility for series of attacks on non-local, non-Muslim migrants, reviving memories of early 1990s mass exodus of Hindu Kashmiri Pandit community from Kashmir Valley. Notably, TRF claimed responsibility for killings of two school teachers 7 Oct. In response to attacks, Indian security forces detained at least 700 Kashmiris for questioning. Pakistan’s foreign office 11 Oct strongly condemned “arbitrary arrests and detentions” of Kashmiris by Indian forces in J&K; Pakistan’s UN representative 18 Oct declared it “one of the biggest crackdowns in the disputed territory”. Indian army chief MM Naravane 10 Oct said Feb ceasefire agreement respected only until July but has since given way to “sporadic incidents”. Pakistan’s Navy 19 Oct claimed to have blocked attempt by Indian submarine to enter Pakistani waters. Meanwhile, counter-insurgency operations and other militant attacks continued in J&K. Security forces 1 Oct killed alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militant in Shopian district; 8 Oct allegedly killed Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militant in Srinagar; 12 Oct killed five alleged TRF militants in Shopian district; 13 Oct killed alleged Jaish-e-Mohammad commander in Tral town, Pulwama district; 15 Oct killed two suspected militants in Pulwama and Srinagar districts; 16 Oct killed two alleged militants in Pampore area; 20 Oct killed four alleged militants in Shopian and Kulgam districts. Militants 2 Oct killed two civilians in Srinagar; 5 Oct killed taxi driver in Bandipora district; 11-19 Oct killed nine soldiers in Jammu’s Poonch district; 16, 17 Oct killed four migrant labourers in Kulgam and Pulawama districts. New militant group, People’s Anti-Fascists Front, took credit for Poonch attack.

Nepal

Govt formed cabinet after three-month delay, but appointment of Supreme Court judge’s brother-in-law as minister sparked fresh controversy. PM Deuba 8 Oct appointed 18 new ministers, ending months of stalemate; appointment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana’s brother-in-law Gajendra Hamal as industry minister sparked widespread criticism following reports that he was appointed at Rana’s behest. Accusations centred around Deuba granting Rana share of cabinet designations as part of quid pro quo arrangement following 12 July Supreme Court decision which ousted previous KP Oli-led govt from office. Hamal 10 Oct resigned as industry minister, but calls mounted for Rana to step down from Supreme Court position for having undermined judiciary’s independence; 15 of 19 other Supreme Court justices 26 Oct demanded Rana’s resignation and have refused to hear cases at court in late Oct in protest at reported collusion between Rana and Deuba. Rana however refused to step down, 26 Oct challenged parliament to begin impeachment motion against him; Nepal Bar Association 29 Oct announced protests against Rana as Chief Justice.

Pakistan

Violent clashes erupted between hardline Sunni group and law-enforcement agencies in Punjab; deadly militant attacks and military operations persisted. Calling for release of detained party chief and expulsion of French ambassador, Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) 21 Oct vowed to march from Punjab’s Lahore city to capital Islamabad. In violent clashes, TLP activists killed seven police officers, including two in Lahore 22 Oct, and four 27-28 Oct some 50km away, while injuring more than 600 members of security forces in Punjab province. Holding negotiations with TLP leaders, interior ministry 24 Oct said it accepted TLP demands, including release of chief and detained activists. Protests for expelling French ambassador and deadly clashes with police however persisted, prompting paramilitary Rangers 27 Oct to deploy in Punjab. Information ministry 27 Oct said govt decided no further negotiations with “militant group” would take place until protests end; yet interior ministry same day said talks with TLP leadership ongoing. Meanwhile, militant attacks and security operations continued at high intensity. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistani Taliban attack 2 Oct killed five soldiers in North Waziristan district. Militants 4, 16, 20 Oct killed two soldiers, police officer and local politician in North Waziristan, Hangu, Bajaur and Lower Dir districts. Bomb blast 7 Oct killed three people in North Waziristan district. Roadside bomb 20 Oct killed two soldiers and two police officers in Bajaur district. Militant attacks 22 Oct killed two soldiers in North Waziristan district; four police officers 26 Oct in Mianwali district, two soldiers 26-27 Oct night in Kurram district, and two soldiers 27 Oct in North Waziristan district. In Balochistan, roadside bomb 18 Oct killed police officer in Quetta district; militant attack 20 Oct killed soldier in Kech district. PM Khan 1 Oct disclosed govt was negotiating with some factions of Pakistani Taliban, Pakistani Taliban group in North Waziristan same day confirmed information. Interior minister 4 Oct however said no talks “have taken place yet”, and negotiations “will be carried out only with those who lay down arms” and abide by constitution.

Sri Lanka

President Rajapaksa appointed controversial “nationalistic” legal task force, while efforts toward accountability came under renewed scrutiny, including over Easter bombings events. President Rajapaksa 27 Oct appointed Task Force to draft law instituting principle of “One Country, One Law” to regulate religious and family law, with clear focus on Islamic institutions; headed by Buddhist monk and militant Sinhala nationalist campaigner Galagodaaaththe Gnanasara, whom many accuse of instigating anti-Muslim violence; task force widely criticised across political and religious spectrum as partisan and divisive. Catholic Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith 24 Oct accused Rajapaksa govt of covering up conspiracy behind Easter Sunday 2019 jihadist bombings in order to “protect the interests” of president, called for international assistance in uncovering truth and announced Pope Francis had written to convey his support for cardinal’s efforts. Meanwhile, teachers continued months-long strike calling for salary increases and protesting arrest and harassment of trade union leaders. Farmer protests against govt’s ban on importing chemical fertiliser and pesticides also continued, fuelling concerns over potential food shortages with predicted fall of rice and tea harvests. Following EU visit to monitor govt’s compliance with EU treaty obligations underpinning trade benefits associated with General Scheme of Preferences, European Commission officials 6 Oct urged amendment of Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) act but gave no deadline for changes; PTA permits arrests without warrant and detention without charge for up to 18 months. Previously, EU-Sri Lanka Joint Commission’s Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights 1 Oct announced both parties “agreed to take stock of progress” related to PTA amendment. President Rajapaksa’s office 4 Oct announced “immediate steps” to amend “necessary provisions”. FM Peiris 13 Oct reiterated that govt “rejects the establishment of an external [accountability] mechanism when domestic processes were ongoing”; Attorney General Rajaratnam 13 Oct informed High Court govt was dropping charges against former Naval Commander Karannagoda for alleged abduction, torture and murder of at least 11 Tamil and Muslim men in 2008-2009 – making it one of more than dozen indictments against Rajapaksa family members and former officials dropped since Gotabaya Rajapaksa became president in Nov 2019.

Myanmar

Regime forces faced stiffening resistance amid wave of deadly attacks, while regional body ASEAN barred junta leader from its summit. Myanmar military reportedly deployed significant forces to country’s north west (Chin, Magway, Sagaing regions) throughout Oct in apparent preparation for renewed offensive against opposition People’s Defence Forces; unconfirmed reports revealed that over 1,500 soldiers killed throughout Oct, making it potentially bloodiest month since Feb coup. State Administration Council also faced growing economic crisis as dollar shortages and declining kyat currency made critical imports such as food, fuel, fertiliser and other essential goods particularly difficult; kyat stabilised as of 14 Oct but remained far below value before coup. Meanwhile, court hearings against senior National League for Democracy figures resumed. Notably, in corruption case against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, former Yangon Region Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein 1 Oct testified that he had bribed her to secure businesses interests. Aung San Suu Kyi described allegations as “all absurd” and said Phyo Min Thein had given testimony under duress. On international front, member states of South East Asia regional body ASEAN 15 Oct decided to bar junta’s representatives, chiefly Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, from attending 26-28 Oct ASEAN summit and other related summits over lack of progress on five-point consensus, notably Tatmadaw’s refusal to allow ASEAN special envoy Erywan Yusof to meet Aung San Suu Kyi. In address to nation, Min Aung Hlaing 18 Oct pinned blame for snub on opposition violence and announced mass release of over 5,600 political prisoners; NGO Human Rights Watch 22 Oct called release “limited in scope”, while authorities subsequently re-arrested 110 people; junta also arrested prominent activist Ko Jimmy in North Dagon township, Yangon region 24 Oct. U.S. legislators 5 Oct introduced “Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act” authorising stronger sanctions, support for civil society and appointment of “special coordinator for Burmese democracy”. French senate same day unanimously approved symbolic proposal to recognise National Unity Govt (NUG) as legitimate government. European Parliament 7 Oct approved resolution that “supports the CRPH [Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw] and the NUG as the only legitimate representatives”.

Philippines

Insecurity persisted in south, while clashes between govt forces and communists killed over dozen. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, insecurity continued throughout Oct. Gunmen 11 Oct ambushed election officer and his daughter in Basilan province, severely wounding both. Security forces throughout Oct found IEDs, notably around Lamitan town. Two families 19 Oct re-ignited clan feud over land in village of Nabundas, Pikit town; Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)-facilitated agreement had quelled feud earlier this year. In Maguindanao province, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) maintained low profile during month; BIFF’s Karialan faction 19 Oct however underscored group’s continued robustness. In Sulu Archipelago, Abu Sayyaf Group militant 12 Oct surrendered to military in Tawi-Tawi province. Military 29 Oct killed BIFF faction leader Salahuddin Hassan in Talayan town, Maguindanao province; group 31 Oct retaliated by attacking military detachment in so-called “SPMS-box”, area around towns of Shariff Aguak, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona. Clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army (NPA) persisted: violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre, and Luzon Island in north killed at least 19 combatants and civilians during month. Notably, govt claimed forces killed key NPA commander Jorge Madlos in Bukidnon province, Mindanao island, on 30 Oct. Meanwhile, Bangsamoro Transition Authority continued work on priority legislation; President Duterte 28 Oct signed bill to postpone parliamentary poll in region for three years, thereby extending transition until 2025. Representatives from govt and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 16-17 Oct met in planning and review workshop in Davao city to discuss normalisation process; Independent Decommissioning Body 12-14 Oct conducted simulation exercises for next phase of disarmament. In Lanao del Sur’s Marawi city, Duterte 16 Oct committed to “expedite the completion of rehabilitation projects at the soonest time possible” during visit to commemorate four-year anniversary of town’s liberation.

South China Sea

U.S., UK and allies conducted joint maritime exercises throughout month, while Malaysia protested Chinese maritime presence in country’s exclusive economic zone. Maritime activity continued. Chinese research institute 4 Oct reported USS Carl Vinson and HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers had crossed Bashi Channel and entered South China Sea (SCS) for second time since July. USS Ronald Reagan and USS Carl Vinson carrier strike groups, alongside UK Royal Navy carrier strike group and Japan Maritime Self-Defence Forces, 2-3 Oct conducted operations in Philippine Sea; drills included navy frigates and personnel from Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand. U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Connecticut 2 Oct collided with “unknown underwater object” in SCS. HMS Queen Elizabeth 9-10 Oct conducted joint exercises with Singapore military. Five Power Defence Arrangements nations – Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and UK – 8-18 Oct conducted sea and air exercises in SCS to mark fiftieth anniversary of alliance. USS Carl Vinson strike group 25 Oct began joint training exercises with Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force’s JS Kaga in SCS. Meanwhile, Malaysian foreign ministry 4 Oct said it had summoned Chinese ambassador for second time this year to “protest against the presence and activities of Chinese vessels, including a survey vessel, in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone off the coasts of Sabah and Sarawak”; Chinese survey vessel left zone 18 Oct. Following high-level meeting in Indonesian capital Jakarta 18 Oct, Malaysian FM Saifuddin Abdullah expressed “concern and disturbance” over Australia-UK-U.S. “AUKUS” defence pact while Indonesian FM Retno Marsudi warned of tensions caused by “arms race and power projection”.

Thailand

Protests continued in capital Bangkok, while clashes between security forces and insurgents intensified in deep south. Rallies calling for PM Prayuth Chan-ocha’s resignation and clashes with police in Din Daeng area in Bangkok continued almost nightly in first half of Oct. Police 4 Oct arrested 26 protesters in Din Daeng for violating emergency decree. Unknown shooter 6 Oct shot and seriously wounded riot policeman at Din Daeng housing project during police search for “rioters”. Police 11 Oct arrested two youths throwing small improvised bombs at police kiosk at Asoke-Din Daeng intersection. Fifteen-year-old boy, who was shot 16 Aug by unknown assailant outside Din Daeng police station, died 28 Oct; first protester killed since anti-govt rallies resumed in 2020. Thousands 31 Oct gathered in central Bangkok to demand repeal of lèse-majesté law in largest protests in months. Former Future Forward Party leader and current Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Jungrungruangkit 12 Oct reported to police to answer lèse-majesté charges, Computer Crimes Act violations and defamation; charges relate to earlier comments he made in 2021 about how firm Siam Bioscience, owned by Thai king, won contract to manufacture AstraZeneca vaccine. Amid growing speculation of plans for early election, all major parties save Pheu Thai Party named their PM candidates by 7 Oct; PM Prayuth 12 Oct however said he was not contemplating parliament dissolution or cabinet reshuffle. In deep south, late Sept firefight in Bacho district, Narathiwat province, that killed police officer and militant prompted two-week security operation in search of insurgents; clashes in province overnight 2-3, 7 and 13 Oct left army lieutenant and total of six insurgents dead before authorities 15 Oct announced end of operation. Elsewhere in Narathiwat, unidentified gunmen 3 Oct ambushed train bound for Raman district, leaving no casualties; IED 4 Oct exploded in Sungai Padi district; IED 10 Oct exploded in Bacho district, damaging police vehicle and wounding civilian. In Bannang Sata district, Yala province, IED 3 Oct wounded two rangers. Former village headman also shot dead in Pattani’s Kapho district 29 Oct.

Europe & Central Asia

Eastern Mediterranean

Maritime tensions persisted between Greece and Turkey while sides held new round of exploratory talks. After France and Greece last Sept announced defence and security deal that includes Greece’s purchase of three French frigates and mutual assistance clause, Turkish defence ministry 1 Oct said deal threatened NATO alliance and would fuel regional arms race. Turkish defence ministry 3 Oct accused Greece of “unlawful, provocative and aggressive” actions in Aegean Sea, citing Greek military drills in Sept 16km from Turkish coast and scientific research vessel in contested waters. Ankara also conducted numerous naval drills in Aegean Sea during month, including in contested maritime zones. In tentatively positive sign, Ankara and Athens 6 Oct held 63rd round of exploratory talks in Turkish capital Ankara; content of discussion not publicly disclosed and next round of talks expected to be held in Greek capital Athens in six months. Greece, Cyprus and Egypt 19 Oct jointly condemned Turkey’s activities in Eastern Mediterranean, following their 9th Trilateral Summit held in Athens; in response, Turkish foreign ministry said joint declaration is “nothing but a reflection of hostile attitude displayed by the Greek Cypriot side and Greece against Turkey and the TRNC [‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’]”. Turkish President Erdoğan and U.S. President Biden 31 Oct met on sidelines of G20 summit, focusing on bilateral relations as well as regional issues, including Eastern Mediterranean.

Bosnia And Herzegovina

Republika Srpska leadership took steps to undermine federal institutions, sparking worst political crisis in 20 years and raising prospect of secession. In moves threatening collapse of 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik 8 Oct said Bosnian Serb-run entity Republika Srpska would pull out of Bosnian armed forces, top judiciary body and tax administration; 12 Oct announced Bosnian judiciary, security and intelligence agencies would be banned from operating in Republika Srpska and “Serb only” institutions would replace them by end of Nov, announcing he was “openly working on the project of an independent Republika Srpska” but stopping short of calling for secession. Republika Srpska President Zeljka Cvijanovic signed law which came into force 13 Oct to reverse ban on genocide denial introduced by previous High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko in July. Dodik 14 Oct announced intention to unravel further Bosnian state institutions, including state court, prosecution, and constitutional court. Prosecutors subsequently launched investigation of Dodik for “undermining the constitutional order”. National Assembly of Republika Srpska 20 Oct adopted law creating independent medicine procurement agency, undermining federal Agency for Medical Equipment and Drugs; EU and U.S. same day expressed concerns over “divisive rhetoric” and called for respect of institutions. Bosnia’s Serb police 22 Oct held “anti-terrorist” drill in Mount Jahorina, outside capital Sarajevo and in Mrkonjic Grad in move seen by Bosnian Croat and Bosniak leadership as “a clear provocation”. EU and U.S. 29 Oct reaffirmed support for unified Bosnia and said they were working with Bosnian officials to solve political crisis.

Kosovo

EU brokered temporary agreement to resolve tense standoff with Serbia triggered by licence plate dispute, while police and Kosovo Serb protesters clashed. Following govt’s implementation of regulations affecting Serbian licence plates that triggered unrest in north and dispute with Belgrade, NATO mission 2 Oct deployed to border crossing points with Serbia in northern Kosovo in support of EU-brokered temporary agreement. EU deal 4 Oct came into force, requiring covering up national symbols on licence plates and establishing Working Group to find permanent solution to dispute. Working Group 21 Oct met for first time in Belgian capital Brussels, due to report back on their findings at High-Level Dialogue in six months. Meanwhile, authorities in Mitrovica city in northern Kosovo 1 Oct charged ten ethnic Albanians with involvement in Sept ethnically motivated attack against Serbs. In worrying incident, police 13 Oct clashed with Kosovo Serb protesters who reportedly threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police during anti-smuggling operation in Mitrovica; incident left six officers and one protester injured. Serbian President Vučić same day met Kosovo Serb representatives, who asked for weapons and Serbian troops in or out of uniform, and stated: “If they [Kosovo authorities] start violence, you protect your people and we will be with you”. Meanwhile, U.S. 13 Oct urged for calm and EU 14 Oct warned against “unilateral actions”. In first round of municipal elections held 17 Oct, ruling Vetevendosje party failed to secure victory in any of 17 constituencies that produced clear winner; 21 remaining constituencies due to be decided in run-off votes.

Armenia

Diplomatic engagement with Baku increased despite hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and proceedings at International Court of Justice. Despite rise in hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict zone (see Nagorno-Karabakh), Armenian FM Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani FM Jeyhun Bayramov 14 Oct met in presence of Russian FM Sergei Lavrov to discuss issues related to NK conflict, including implementation of Nov 2020 trilateral statement. After govt and Baku in Sept initiated cases against each other at International Court of Justice on grounds of violating International Convention on Racial Discrimination, court 14 Oct hosted hearings on Armenian case against Azerbaijan, which focused on Azerbaijan’s Military Trophies Park and Armenian prisoners of war, and 18 Oct hosted hearing on Azerbaijan’s separate case against Armenia, which largely focused on landmines. Following Azerbaijan’s Aug closure of transit road from Iran to Armenia, Iranian delegation 4 Oct visited country to discuss Iran’s possible contribution to construction of alternative transit road in Armenia; Russia’s Deputy Minister of Economic Development Dmitry Volvach 19 Oct announced plans to invest in “concrete programs worth one billion dollars”. Meanwhile, PM Pashinyan 12 Oct travelled to Russian capital Moscow to meet Russian President Putin, reportedly discussing bilateral agenda and post-war situation.

Azerbaijan

Diplomatic engagement with Yerevan increased despite hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and proceedings at International Court of Justice; tensions with Iran continued. Despite rise in hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict zone (see Nagorno-Karabakh), Armenian FM Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani FM Jeyhun Bayramov 14 Oct met in presence of Russian FM Sergei Lavrov to discuss issues related to NK conflict, including implementation of Nov 2020 trilateral statement. After govt and Yerevan in Sept initiated cases against each other at International Court of Justice on grounds of violating International Convention on Racial Discrimination, court 14 Oct hosted hearings on Armenian case against Azerbaijan, which focused on Azerbaijan’s Military Trophies Park and Armenian prisoners of war, and 18 Oct hosted hearing on Azerbaijan’s separate case against Armenia, which largely focused on landmines. Meanwhile, tensions continued with Iran after police installed checkpoint in Sept on main border zone highway connecting Iran to South Caucasus, and Armenia with its southern regions. Iranian armed forces 1 Oct held military drills, prompting President Aliyev to question “why now, and why on our border?”. Interior ministry 5 Oct suspended prayer hall and Representative’s Office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran early Oct held large-scale military drills at borders with Azerbaijan’s enclave Nakhchivan and Turkey; Azerbaijan and Turkey 5-8 Oct launched joint military exercises. Iran 5 Oct closed airspace to Azerbaijani military. FMs of Iran and Azerbaijan next day discussed bilateral tensions. Azerbaijan 19 Oct detained five Azerbaijani Shia Muslim clerics with alleged links to Iran. After Iranian authorities 20 Oct banned Iranian load drivers from entering NK via Armenia, Baku next day released two detained Iranian truck drivers. Iranian FM Hossein Amir-Abdollahian 27 Oct said tension between countries were thing of past and nations were “on the right path of cooperation”.

Georgia

Ruling Georgian Dream party won local elections as arrest of former President Mikheil Saakashvili fuelled tensions between opposition and govt. In local elections held 2 Oct, Georgian Dream won 46.7% of votes, surpassing 43% threshold for snap parliamentary elections set by EU-brokered April deal from which party withdrew in July; largest opposition party United National Movement (UNM) came in second with 30.7% of vote. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observation mission same day concluded elections were “well-administered”, despite “allegations of intimidation, vote-buying, pressure on candidates and voters, and an unlevel playing field”; UNM 3 Oct alleged “election results were falsified”. Run-off round took place 30 Oct to decide winner in number of key towns as well as capital Tbilisi; Central Election Commission 31 Oct announced Georgian Dream won 19 of 20 mayoral polls, including all major cities, prompting head of UNM Nika Melia to reject “rigged results” and call for street rallies in protest. After founder of UNM and former President Mikheil Saakashvili 1 Oct returned to Georgia from Ukraine, authorities same day arrested him on corruption charges which he rejected; Saakashvili immediately announced hunger strike. In its largest street protest ever, UNM 14 Oct gathered 50,000 supporters in capital Tbilisi to demand Saakashvili’s release; dozens of former and current European foreign officials 18 Oct called for Saakashvili’s release. Prosecutor’s Office 21 Oct charged Saakashvili with crossing border illegally. Meanwhile, in breakaway entity Abkhazia, violent altercation ensued after de facto Interior Minister Dmitry Dbar accompanied by police reportedly sought to disarm de facto MP Garri Kokaia who had fired shots in air at late Sept celebrations of 28th anniversary of territory’s declaration of independence. Demonstrators 1 Oct rallied against Dbar outside de facto parliament building while de facto President Aslan Bzhania same day convened emergency parliamentary session. Bzhania 3 Oct suspended Dbar pending investigation into the incident; motion in de facto parliament to dismiss Dbar from his post however failed by one vote. Bzhania visited Russian capital Moscow twice during month for high-level meetings with senior Russian officials, including with Deputy PM Marat Khusnullin.

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Despite heightened tensions inside Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders continued to voice readiness to resume meetings in OSCE Minsk Group format. In Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict zone, hostilities increased during month. Azerbaijani sniper reportedly 9 Oct killed ethnic Armenian farmer next to military positions; Azerbaijan’s defence ministry same day denied responsibility. Azerbaijani trucks 13 Oct came under fire, with no injuries reported, prompting Baku to pause movement of trucks in area; de facto NK defence ministry 13 Oct denied incident. Clashes along one of front-line sections in Agdam district 14 Oct wounded six NK soldiers; sniper in nearby area same day reportedly killed one Azerbaijani soldier. Similar sniper shots same day reported near Azerbaijan’s exclave in south of Armenia, with no deaths or injuries confirmed. Earlier, Azerbaijani President Aliyev 4 Oct visited NK conflict zone, showcasing Israeli-produced drone and announcing construction of “smart settlement” in southern part of NK conflict zone. Despite hostilities, diplomatic contact increased. Aliyev 2 Oct signalled readiness to meet Armenian PM Pashinyan with Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group mediation; Pashinyan 15 Oct confirmed willingness to meet. Armenian and Azerbaijani FMs 14 Oct met in presence of Russian FM Sergei Lavrov to discuss issues related to NK conflict, including implementation of Nov 2020 trilateral statement calling for resolution of “remaining issues”; meeting follows late Sept meeting convened by OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs (see Armenia and Azerbaijan). In positive development, Azerbaijan 6 Oct released one Armenian soldier detained in July at disputed border areas, and 19 Oct freed five Armenian soldiers detained during or shortly after 2020 war, who were previously sentenced to prison terms. Armenian-populated areas of NK 10 Oct held elections in Askeran, Martakert and Martuni regions.

Russia (Internal)

Authorities detained dozens of suspected Islamist militants across country, and harassment of opposition leader Sergei Navalny’s associates continued. Law enforcement agencies 4 Oct detained two leaders and six supporters of international jihadist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir in capital Moscow and wider capital region for allegedly disseminating terrorist ideology. Agencies 14 Oct detained four Central Asian nationals in Vladimir region suspected of affiliation with extremist group Katibat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad. Authorities 14 Oct detained 14 individuals suspected of engaging in financing activities for Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham in Moscow, North Caucasus and other regions. In North Caucasus republic Karachay-Cherkessia, law enforcement 19 Oct detained five individuals associated with banned At-Takfir wal-Hijra organisation. Authorities 29 Oct reported detention of members of extremist right-wing radical community in Buryatia region who were planning actions against authorities and migrants. Meanwhile, Moscow court 14 Oct sentenced head of Alliance of Doctors trade union Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva, who treated Navalny, to one-year restriction of freedom for allegedly calling for demonstrations in support of opposition leader. Forty-five countries 5 Oct also questioned Russia via Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) regarding Aug 2020 poisoning of now-imprisoned Navalny; govt 7 Oct provided response, which UK Delegation to OPCW 20 Oct argued “makes no attempt to answer the questions”. Eighteen govts, including U.S., UK, France and Germany, 28 Oct issued joint statement condemning “the Russian government’s targeting and harassment of independent journalists and media outlets”.

Belarus

Authorities continued crackdown on dissent and restricted space for civil society groups, while ties with Western countries deteriorated further. Following late Sept house raid by security forces that resulted in shootout, which left one civilian and one security officer dead, authorities 6 Oct announced detention of 136 individuals over social media comments criticising intelligence agency for incident. Authorities next day launched criminal probe against news outlet Tut.by for allegedly inciting social hatred and discord. Supreme Court 1 Oct ordered closure of Belarusian Helsinki Committee, one of country’s remaining two human rights groups. Court 5 Oct sentenced former Colonel Alyaksey Syankou to two years in prison over participation in Aug 2020 mass protests. Ministry of interior 15 Oct classified Telegram channel of exiled opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya as “extremist”, threatening subscribers with fines or jail time. Authorities 25 Oct removed licence of opposition lawyer Natallya Matskevich; 28 Oct cut access to several news networks, including Deutsche Welle, alleging media outlets spreading “extremist” content. Amid migration dispute between EU states and Belarus, Polish Border Guards 8 Oct accused Belarusian forces of firing “probably blank ammunition” across border; Belarus’ Border Guard Committee rejected alleged use of weapons. Polish interior minister 12 Oct announced plan to construct “solid, high barrier” on Polish-Belarusian border, while Poland 19 Oct doubled border contingent to 6,000 soldiers. German Federal Police 13 Oct claimed 4,300 migrants entered Germany through “Belarus Route”. After govt mid-Aug demanded U.S. to reduce embassy staff in Belarus, Belarusian New York City consulate 21 Oct closed at request of U.S.; France’s ambassador 17 Oct left Belarus following govt’s request. Govt 20 Oct notified U.S. of forced closure of its embassy’s Public Diplomacy and Agency for International Development offices.

Ukraine

Hostilities continued in Donbas conflict zone, while momentum gathered for possible Normandy Four meeting. Russian-backed armed groups suffered 12 combat fatalities during month according to Ukrainian researchers. Ukrainian govt forces recorded two combat deaths 26, 27 Oct. In notable development, Kyiv 26 Oct used for first time Turkish Bayraktar drone, which reportedly destroyed howitzer. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors corroborated two civilian casualties following heavy weapons use 21 Oct, and one from small arms use 9 Oct, all near separatist-held Donetsk. De facto authorities of so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) 13 Oct announced that Stanytsya Luhanska, sole checkpoint through which civilian residents can enter govt-held territory, would be closed 15 Oct-1 Nov to control COVID-19 spread. Ukrainian authorities same day detained LPR member allegedly conducting reconnaissance, prompting Moscow to call for consular access given detainee’s Russian citizenship; incident led separatist armed group 17 Oct to temporarily block OSCE Special Monitoring Mission from accessing patrol base, demanding arrestee’s release. Following online meeting between German Chancellor Merkel, French President Macron and President Zelenskyy 11 Oct, Paris next day announced that FMs of Normandy Four (Ukraine, France, Germany, Russia) would meet in coming weeks; Moscow 13 Oct confirmed that plans were under way, although Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 14 Oct reiterated meetings not desirable until sides had fulfilled Dec 2019 pledges. EU and U.S. 9 Oct jointly criticised “unexplained and unjustifiable delays” in selecting head of Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office after selection committee failed to achieve quorum at planned proceedings. Annual Ukraine-EU summit on 12 Oct yielded declaration of willingness to “explore possibilities” to further support country including through military education. U.S. military aid package worth $250 mn arrived in three instalments, on 10, 18 and 23 Oct; U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin 19 Oct visited capital Kyiv, discussed implementation of U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Defence Framework. Investigative project “Pandora papers” published 3 Oct revealed Zelenskyy and partners had set up network of offshore companies in 2012. Authorities 8 Oct announced new possible treason charges against opposition deputy Viktor Medvedchuk.

Cyprus

UN Sec-Gen proposed new special envoy, while maritime tensions persisted. UN Sec-Gen Antonio Guterres 3 Oct proposed appointment of Canadian Colin Stewart as new special envoy to Cyprus; Republic of Cyprus next day consented while “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”) did not immediately respond in likely sign of disagreement over scope of envoy’s mandate. Meanwhile, tensions persisted in maritime domain. Greek Cypriot govt 3 Oct rejected Ankara’s calls to stop energy exploration by research vessels in waters south of island. In troubling incident that could become more common in months ahead, Turkish defence ministry 4 Oct announced Turkish navy had pushed back Greek Cypriot research vessel; Republic of Cyprus’s research vessel carried out survey operations in claimed Exclusive Economic Zone 21-23 Oct. Turkish navy 8 Oct issued advisory announcing that Turkish research vessel Oruç Reis, accompanied by Turkish warships, would carry out seismic surveys north of Cyprus 8 Oct-16 Dec; in response, Republic of Cyprus claimed such activity violated its sovereign rights. Turkish Cypriot authorities 13 Oct began new phase in opening of fenced-off town of Varosha, clearing roads and streets in one part of area Turkey had demilitarised for resettlement of Greek Cypriots who wish to reclaim their properties. Incumbent “TRNC” PM Ersan Saner 13 Oct resigned, saying acting govt was no longer sustainable given that it had lost majority support in parliament; parliamentary elections in “TRNC” planned for early 2022.

Turkey

Military operations continued against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in south east and northern Iraq, and authorities arrested scores of alleged Islamic State supporters. Military continued operations against PKK in south east and northern Iraq. In south east, operations concentrated in rural areas of Bingöl and Şırnak provinces; interior ministry 5 Oct claimed number of PKK members operating inside country dropped to 189. In northern Iraq, military conducted air operations targeting higher-ranking members of PKK. Attack in northern Syria 10 Oct killed two Turkish policemen, for which Ankara blamed People’s Protection Units (YPG) – Syrian armed group with links to PKK (see Syria). Parliament 27 Oct extended military’s mandate to launch cross-border military operations in Iraq and Syria for two years. Security units continued operations against Islamic State (ISIS) cells/operatives across country. Police detained more than 130 individuals with alleged ISIS links during month. Notably, security units 5 Oct carried out simultaneous raids in 18 locations in Istanbul, detaining 16 individuals, and police 12 Oct detained 11 ISIS-linked suspects in simultaneous raids in nine provinces, including Ankara and Adana. In sign of deteriorating relations with West, President Erdoğan 23 Oct said he had ordered foreign ministry to declare persona non grata ten Western ambassadors, including U.S., Canada, France and Germany, after they issued joint statement calling for release of businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala who has been jailed since Oct 2017; crisis was defused after embassies reaffirmed commitment to Article 41 of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which stipulates that diplomatic missions shall not interfere in domestic affairs of their host country. In response, Erdoğan 27 Oct stepped back from his decision to expel the ambassadors. Erdoğan and U.S. President Biden 31 Oct met on sidelines of G20 summit, focusing on bilateral relations as well as regional issues, including Eastern Mediterranean.

Kyrgyzstan

President Japarov signalled willingness to resolve disputed border issue with Tajikistan. President Japarov 12 Oct named Akylbek Japarov as chairman of cabinet; move follows constitutional reforms which created new post and which president adopted previous day. Japarov 23 Oct said border crossings with Tajikistan were still closed to Tajik citizens following violent escalation in April and indicated officials “will be heading to Tajikistan soon” to proceed with border demarcation and delimitation.

Tajikistan

Concerns persisted over tensions between govt and Taliban in Afghanistan. Russian foreign ministry 1 Oct voiced concern about “growing tension in Tajik-Afghan relations against the background of the mutually acrimonious statements by the leaders of both countries”, indicating build-up of Taliban fighters and Tajikistan’s armed forces on respective sides of border. Reports 28 Oct surfaced that China will finance construction of law enforcement outpost in eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in eastern Tajikistan, at border with Afghanistan. Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 29 Oct held telephone conversation with FM Sirojiddin Muhriddin during which pair “confirmed the decision to coordinate efforts on issues related to the situation in Afghanistan”. Muhriddin 30 Oct hosted chairperson of Parliamentary Assembly of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Margaret Sederfelt, and reportedly raised “alarming situation on the border” with Afghanistan.

Uzbekistan

President Mirziyoyev won second presidential term, while senior Uzbek officials engaged with Taliban govt in Afghanistan. Central Election Commission chairman 25 Oct declared Mirziyoyev winner of election with 80.1% of vote; Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)-led monitoring mission same day said election was “not truly competitive”. Ahead of election on 24 Oct, NGO Human Rights Watch 13 Oct cited restrictions on media freedom and opposition candidates that “compromise the fairness and integrity of the first presidential elections since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power in 2016”. Earlier, U.S. Deputy Sec State Wendy Sherman 4 Oct met with Mirziyoyev in capital Tashkent to discuss bilateral relations; Sherman “underscored the importance of the United States’ strategic partnership with Uzbekistan”. Turkmenistan President Berdymukhammedov 5 Oct met Mirziyoyev in Tashkent where pair “stressed during the talks that peace and stability in Afghanistan are the key to sustainable development in the entire Central Asian region”. FM Abdulaziz Kamilov 7 Oct visited Afghan capital Kabul to meet acting Deputy Head of Taliban govt Mulla Abdul Kabir and acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi; Kamilov said he “received from our Afghan brothers strong and clear assurances that Afghanistan will never impose any threat or danger on Uzbekistan".

Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia

Authorities apprehended most wanted crime lord while rural violence persisted, particularly in key trafficking routes including Pacific coast, Bajo Cauca and Venezuelan border. Authorities 23 Oct arrested leader of country’s largest criminal organisation, alias Otoniel, in joint army, air force and police operation in Antioquia department; President Duque hailed capture as “biggest blow against drug trafficking in our country this century”. Fierce fighting involving armed groups and military sparked mass displacements along Pacific coast, including of over 230 people from indigenous reserve in Nariño department mid-Oct, and of over 400 in Cauca department around 20 Oct as military engaged in heavy fighting against Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents and National Liberation Army. UN also reported inter-urban displacement accelerated in Oct in Buenaventura port city, Valle del Cauca department, due to armed group competition for territorial control. Social leaders in Antioquia and Córdoba departments throughout month reported increasing threats from Gulf Clan, one of country’s main criminal organisations, and other armed groups. Attacks on social leaders continued at high level. Notably, unidentified assailants 1 and 7 Oct killed three activists in Putumayo department; 6 Oct attacked teenage son of spokesperson of national coca growers’ union in Córdoba department. String of attacks on security forces late Sept-early Oct left several dead across country, including two police in Santander de Quilichao municipality, Cauca department, 9 Oct. Violence against former FARC members persisted with at least two killed in Cauca department week of 9-15 Oct. Govt 6 Oct said it deployed 14,000-strong military unit to Norte de Santander department near border with Venezuela; move came one day after Caracas reopened land border with Colombia after two-year closure. Constitutional Court 1 Oct extended mandate of Truth Commission, created by 2016 peace accord, for another nine months; Commission had been set to finish its work in Nov, but has yet to deliver its final report. International Criminal Court 28 Oct said it had shelved preliminary probe into crimes committed during Colombia’s nearly six-decade civil war, saying it would leave investigations to domestic institutions.

Ecuador

Tensions ran high as protests erupted over soaring fuel prices. Authorities 22 Oct announced 12% increase in fuel prices, said new prices will be frozen. Move aimed at appeasing growing social tensions over fuel prices, which in last year have risen by over 40%, however failed to contain indigenous groups-led protests. Thousands 26 Oct took to streets to protest rise in prices, calling for freeze at lower rates; Defence Minister Luis Hernandez same day said dozens arrested for blocking roads and at least five security forces injured. Main indigenous group 28 Oct suspended protests after govt’s invitation to negotiate. Meanwhile, President Lasso 18 Oct declared state of emergency for 60 days to address drug trafficking violence and prison insecurity; measure implemented amid rising homicide rates and following deadliest prison riot in years, which left over 100 dead in Guyaquil town late Sept.

Venezuela

President Maduro suspended talks with opposition in protest against extradition of top ally to U.S. Cape Verde 16 Oct extradited businessman and Maduro’s close collaborator Alex Saab to U.S. on money-laundering charges. In response, govt immediately suspended talks with opposition, ahead of third round scheduled for 17-20 Oct in Mexico City; authorities same day also rearrested six oil executives, including five U.S. citizens, who had been under house arrest in capital Caracas on embezzlement charges. Opposition’s negotiating team and Norwegian facilitator 17 Oct urged govt to resume talks. Meanwhile, diplomatic spat erupted between EU and Caracas. In effort to reassure those concerned that EU election observation mission might “legitimise” regional and local elections scheduled for 21 Nov, Borrell 8 Oct said mission’s report, not its presence, would “legitimise or de-legitimise” process; govt same day condemned “interventionist” attitude and accused EU of favouring opposition. UN 14 Oct confirmed it would be sending expert panel to monitor elections. Opposition remained divided over fate of one of country’s major overseas assets, Colombia-based chemical company Monómeros, which has been under opposition control since 2019 and filed for bankruptcy in Sept. Senior member of opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s interim govt, Julio Borges, 12 Oct reiterated overseas assets should be supervised by multilateral agency rather than politicians. Guaidó’s Voluntad Popular party figure Leopoldo López same day insisted on extension of interim govt’s mandate when it expires in Jan 2022, arguing Maduro’s govt would otherwise regain control of overseas assets. Guaidó 12 Oct also said 2015-2021 opposition-controlled National Assembly had approved decree to designate new board of directors at Monómeros; other opposition parties however immediately rejected claim, said they had only approved establishment of commission of inquiry into Monómeros’ administration. Central Bank 1 Oct slashed six zeroes from bolívar currency to facilitate its use amid hyperinflation. Govt 5 Oct reopened border with Colombia after two-year closure due to political and diplomatic crisis. Imprisoned former Defence Minister Raul Baduel, considered political prisoner by opposition, 12 Oct died officially of COVID-19; UN and U.S. in following days called for independent investigation.

Brazil

Political tensions continued to run high as special parliamentary commission called for criminal charges against President Bolsonaro for mishandling COVID-19 health crisis. News investigation project “Pandora papers” 3 Oct revealed Economy Minister Paulo Guedes had deposited several million dollars in tax heavens. Guedes 20 Oct suggested govt might lift spending cap to pay for increased social spending; following announcement, dollar price spiked, stock market crashed and four economy ministry top employees resigned next day. Bolsonaro 21 Oct released video in which he said COVID-19 vaccines could cause AIDS; announcement immediately sparked widespread condemnation, and social media groups Facebook and Instagram 24 Oct removed Bolsonaro’s video from their platforms, categorising it as “fake news”; YouTube next day removed video and suspended Bolsonaro’s account for a week. Senate’s commission investigating govt’s role in COVID-19 pandemic 26 Oct recommended that Bolsonaro be tried on criminal charges – including for alleged crimes against humanity – for his handling of health crisis; same day asked Supreme Court to request Facebook and Twitter to ban Bolsonaro’s accounts indefinitely and requested access to records of Bolsonaro’s internet activity. Meanwhile, Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes 21 Oct issued arrest order against close Bolsonaro ally Allan dos Santos, now based in the U.S., for alleged role in disseminating fake information and anti-democratic actions; de Moreas 28 Oct warned “digital militias” linked to Bolsonaro would continue to “spread hatred, conspiracy, fear and to influence the elections” in 2022.

Honduras

In possible game-changing move ahead of 28 Nov general elections, top opposition parties formed alliance. Opposition parties Liberty and Refoundation (Libre) and Salvador de Honduras 13 Oct formed alliance and rallied behind Libre’s Xiomara Castro as presidential candidate, with view to offering her stronger platform against ruling party candidate Nasry Asfura. CID-Gallup poll 8 Oct had previously indicated Asfura leading race with 21% voting intention, followed by Castro and Salvador de Honduras’ candidate Salvador Nasralla with 18% each. Congress 7 Oct approved reforms to Penal Code and anti-money-laundering law, which among other changes, identify civil society organisations investigating corruption as “Politically Exposed People” – those who are more vulnerable to being involved in bribery and corruption by virtue of their position – and expand definition of crime of usurpation, which could lead to criminalisation of protests. Critics, including head of public ministry’s anti-corruption prosecution office, same day argued changes part of effort to protect members of Congress from corruption investigations. Public ministry 18 Oct detained ruling National Party of Honduras mayor of Talanga town, Roosevelt Eduardo Aviléz López, and some of his family members, on money-laundering charges.

El Salvador

President Bukele continued to face mounting opposition from civil society. Around 4,000 people 17 Oct took to streets in capital San Salvador, decrying Bukele’s “antidemocratic” moves in past months, including ouster of Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber judges and potential plan to seek second consecutive term despite constitutional prohibition on re-election, as well as adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender; in attempt to hinder march, police reportedly set up checkpoints along main highways and stopped vehicles headed to capital. Bukele same day responded to critics with changing his Twitter bio to “Emperor of El Salvador”. In apparent attempt to stem nascent protest movement, National Assembly 20 Oct banned mass gatherings for 45 days, citing need to prevent COVID-19 spread, while exempting sporting and cultural events. National Association of Private Enterprise and José Simeón Cañas University 8 Oct called on International Monetary Fund, with which govt is negotiating $1.3bn loan, to set conditions for any loan agreement to prohibit Bukele’s re-election and ensure ousted judges are restored. Inter-American Press Association’s annual report on press freedom 20 Oct ranked El Salvador 18th out of 22 countries, losing two positions compared to 2020. Meanwhile, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to El Salvador Jean Manes 5 Oct urged authorities to abide by extradition agreement with Washington; comment comes after Supreme Court in Aug halted top MS-13 gang leader’s extradition to U.S.. U.S. embassy in El Salvador 31 Oct denied links to alleged plot to disband parliamentary group of Bukele’s New Ideas party, after party published recording in which individual negotiates, allegedly on behalf of U.S. govt, departure of two lawmakers from parliamentary group.

Nicaragua

Amid continued crackdown on dissent, President Ortega’s controversial fourth term bid in 7 Nov general election risks worsening country’s political instability and isolation in coming weeks and months. Several attacks against opposition activists reported in Nicaragua and neighbouring Costa Rica. Notably, police officers 7 Oct temporarily detained opposition activist Kicha López at her home in Madriz department over allegations of plotting against govt; López’s mother reportedly injured during raid. In second attack recorded since Sept against Nicaraguan political activists in Costa Rica, armed individual 2 Oct assaulted and injured civil society activist Raiza Hope, who had fled to Costa Rica in 2018, in capital San José. Authorities 21 Oct arrested President and VP of lead business chamber, Superior Council of Private Enterprise, Michael Healy and Álvaro Vargas, on conspiracy and money-laundering charges. Authorities 4 Oct also removed Managua Appeals Court President Gerardo Rodríguez, apparently for admitting appeal filed by opposition Citizens for Freedom (CxL) party against cancellation of its legal status. Ortega same day officially launched campaign for fourth term. International actors continued to denounce Ortega’s authoritarian drift. U.S. State Dept 14 Oct said “electoral process has lost all credibility” due to Ortega’s “undemocratic and authoritarian actions”, and U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 22 Oct accused Ortega of trying to establish “authoritarian dynasty”. EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell 18 Oct said Nicaragua is “one of the worst dictatorships in the world” with Ortega and his wife, VP Rosario Murillo, preparing “fake elections” to stay in power. Organization of American States (OAS) 20 Oct passed resolution calling for immediate release of political prisoners, condemning govt’s “efforts to subvert the electoral process”, and threatening to take further actions during OAS General Assembly in Nov.

Haiti

Gang violence and kidnappings spiked in and around capital Port-au-Prince, sparking mass protests amid severe fuel shortages. Gangs blocked delivery of fuel across country, notably seizing at least five petrol tankers in Cité Soleil commune week of 4-9 Oct. Suspected members of 400 Mawozo gang 16 Oct abducted 17 Christian missionaries including 16 U.S. nationals and one Canadian on outskirts of Port-au-Prince; authorities few days later said gang was demanding $1mn ransom for each hostage, and Mawozo gang 21 Oct threatened to kill hostages. Several strikes and protests held throughout month to denounce escalating insecurity and fuel shortages. Notably, shops and schools in Port-au-Prince shuttered 18 Oct as part of nationwide strike. Haitian NGO Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights 20 Oct said gangs kidnapped at least 119 people across country in first half of Oct, marking significant surge as entire month of Sept recorded 117 kidnappings; also said 90% of kidnappings committed in capital region. As fuel shortages threatened operations of medical facilities, G9 gang coalition leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier 25 Oct said he would ensure access to fuel terminals if PM Ariel Henry resigned. Meanwhile, repatriations of thousands of Haitians notably from U.S. and Mexico continued early Oct despite four UN agencies’ warning late Sept that “dire” conditions in Haiti were “not conducive to forced returns”. Former first lady Martine Moïse 7 Oct filed complaint against Henry and other officials for alleged involvement in assassination of President Moïse in July. Head of ombudsman-like govt agency Office of Citizen Protection Renan Hédouville 6 Oct claimed Henry was “major obstacle” in assassination investigation, called on UN Special Investigation Commission “to support judge…in charge of the case”. UN Security Council 15 Oct extended mandate of Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), tasked to support political stability and governance, until July 2022.

Mexico

Criminal violence remained at high level, and security dialogue with U.S. kicked off. Shootout between two criminal groups 10 Oct left 20 dead in Guadalupe y Calvo municipality, Chihuahua state (north). Unidentified gunmen same day killed four off-duty police officers in Zacatecas municipality, Zacatecas state (centre north). In Michoacán state (centre), unidentified gunmen 18 Oct attacked nightclub in Morelia municipality, killing six. Shootout between suspected criminal group members 20 Oct killed two foreign tourists in Tulum resort town, Quintana Roo state (south). In Tamaulipas state (north near U.S. border), clashes erupted between law enforcement and Gulf Cartel (CDG) in Matamoros town, leaving four CDG dead 17 Oct and at least another three killed 22-23 Oct, including cartel leader Ariel Treviño Peña, alias “el Tigre”. Interior ministry 5 Oct said 47 journalists and 94 human rights and environmental activists killed since start of President López Obrador’s term in late 2018, with perpetrators sentenced in only five and two cases respectively; also said state officials responsible for 43% and “organized crime” for 33% of attacks against journalists, which continued in Oct. Unidentified gunmen 26 and 28 Oct shot and killed two journalists in Guerrero and Chiapas states (south). Meanwhile, govt 6 Oct created Truth Commission to investigate grave human rights violations committed during country’s so-called anti-leftist “dirty war” between 1965 and 1990. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 8 Oct attended High-Level Security Dialogue in capital Mexico City to discuss new security cooperation agreement between U.S. and Mexico with view to replacing current Merida Initiative launched in 2007 to fight organised crime and associated violence. Authorities 6 Oct deported 129 Haitian migrants despite criticism from human rights and conflict prevention groups. In Hidalgo municipality (Tamaulipas state, north), authorities 8 Oct detained 652 mostly Guatemalan migrants bound for U.S. border, including 200 minors, 101 of whom were deported to Guatemala 12 Oct. Clashes 23 Oct erupted in Chiapas state (south) as law enforcement tried to contain thousands of migrants from Haiti, South America and Central America heading north.

Middle East & North Africa

Israel/Palestine

Tensions ran high amid increased Israeli settler violence against Palestinians in West Bank and worst clashes since May hostilities at Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem. Israeli settlers stepped up attacks on Palestinians and their property in West Bank throughout month; daily incidents of vandalism and violence from 3 Oct mainly targeted villages in northern occupied West Bank surrounding Nablus and Salfit cities. Notably, settlers 15, 16 Oct attacked family in Yasuf village, injuring four, and 16 Oct injured at least 12 Palestinians in Burin village. In West Bank, Israeli forces 1 Oct injured at least 19 Palestinians protesting against settlements. Israeli soldiers 14 Oct killed Palestinian teenager allegedly throwing Molotov cocktail near Bethlehem city. In first such move in decade, Israel’s defence ministry 19 Oct approved residency for 4,000 undocumented Palestinians in West Bank. Israeli housing minister 24 Oct announced advancement of 1,335 housing units in West Bank settlements, in addition to plans to approve additional 3,100 settlement units. In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli police dispersed, arrested and beat Palestinians at Damascus Gate in worst clashes since May hostilities; security forces 18, 19 Oct raided Damascus Gate area, injuring at least 31 and arresting 35. Local Israeli magistrate court 6 Oct lifted ban on Jews silently praying at Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade, sparking Palestinian protest; Jerusalem District Court 8 Oct overturned ruling. Jerusalem planning committee 13 Oct approved land expropriation from Palestinian area Khirbet Tabalya to build over 1,000 housing units in illegal settlement Givat Hamatos, marking first Jewish neighbourhood to be constructed beyond Green Line in at least 20 years. Israeli govt 22 Oct designated six Palestinian civil society organisations as terror groups, effectively outlawing them. Meanwhile, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh 3 Oct arrived in Egyptian capital Cairo to meet Egyptian intelligence officials. In Golan Heights, Israeli PM Bennet 11 Oct announced plans to build two new illegal settlements, prompting protest same day by local Syrian Druze population. Israeli sniper allegedly killed Syrian man with suspected ties to Iran on Israeli-Syrian frontier in occupied Golan Heights; Israeli airstrikes 8, 30 Oct reportedly struck Syrian capital Damascus (see Syria).

Lebanon

Investigation into Aug 2020 Beirut port explosion sparked divisions within govt and deadly sectarian clashes in capital Beirut. Investigative Judge Tareq Bitar 12 Oct issued arrest warrant for former Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil, close aide to head of Shiite party Amal and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, for failing to appear for questioning over Aug 2020 Beirut port explosion; Hizbollah Sec Gen Hassan Nasrallah previous day accused Bitar of “biased” and “politicised” investigation and demanded judge be replaced; Lebanese courts repeatedly turned down legal challenges by Khalil and other politicians against Bitar. Political row over investigation into port explosion forestalled cabinet meetings and govt work from 13 Oct, as Shiite ministers reportedly threatened walk-out if Bitar not removed. Dispute also triggered lethal fighting in capital Beirut. Hizbollah and Amal 14 Oct mobilised protest in front of Palace of Justice, located in Christian neighbourhood adjacent to Shia-populated areas; gunfire and three-hour-long street battle ensued, killing seven Shiite Muslims, in troubling reminder of sectarian clashes during civil war (1975-1990). Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah 18 Oct accused Christian party Lebanese Forces of staging ambush, while Lebanese Forces blamed violent protesters; Nasrallah called for official investigation and warned: “We won’t leave the blood of our martyrs on the ground”. Meanwhile, power supplies across country marginally improved by mid-month as Central Bank further depleted currency reserves, while roll out of rationing card faced bureaucratic complications. Following collapse of talks in June 2020, govt 19 Oct resumed negotiations with International Monetary Fund on financial assistance. U.S. 14 Oct voiced support for plan to deliver gas and electricity to Lebanon via Syria and also pledged additional $67 mn for Lebanese Armed Forces. Parliament 19 Oct voted to bring elections, initially scheduled for 8 May 2022, forward to 27 March. Diplomatic spat late month erupted with Gulf states after footage emerged of Information Minister George Kordahi criticising Saudi-led war in Yemen; in move that could damage govt credibility and compound domestic crises, Riyadh, Kuwait, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates expelled Lebanese ambassador and recalled their ambassadors from Beirut, while Riyadh banned all Lebanese imports.

Syria

Deadliest attack in capital Damascus since 2017 killed over dozen regime soldiers, missile attack on Turkish forces raised prospect of renewed offensive in north west and hostilities rose in Idlib. In rare attack, two roadside bombs 20 Oct targeting bus carrying troops killed at least 14 military personnel. In north west, guided missile fired 10 Oct from Tel Rifaat city – controlled by People’s Protection Units (YPG), Syrian armed group with links to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – struck Turkish vehicle near Azaz city, Aleppo governorate, killing two Turkish officers; Kurdish militant group Afrin Liberation Forces reportedly carried out attack. Turkish forces responded by shelling YPG areas while Turkish President Erdoğan next day called attack “final straw”, raising prospect of renewed Turkish offensive against YPG. In Idlib province, March 2020 ceasefire held despite uptick in Russian airstrikes and regime attacks. Car bomb 11 Oct killed at least nine, injured ten near govt offices in Afrin city, Aleppo governorate. Regime forces 16 Oct shelled police station in rebel-held Sarmada town, Idlib, killing four and injuring at least 17. Reports mid-month surfaced of govt forces’ build up near Idlib governorate. Following Damascus attack, regime shelling 20 Oct killed at least 11, injured 30 in Ariha town, Idlib, in one of deadliest violations of March 2020 ceasefire. Other attacks during month killed at least six Turkish soldiers. In Daraa city in south west, Sept ceasefire deal held. In Deir ez-Zor governorate, unidentified drones 8, 11 Oct reportedly targeted Iran-affiliated militants. In central desert, clashes between Islamic State (ISIS) and govt forces, supported by Russian airstrikes, killed dozens throughout month. Alleged Iran-backed drone strike 20 Oct targeted U.S. military outpost in al-Tanf garrison in Homs governorate. Israeli airstrikes 8, 13 Oct killed regime soldiers and Iran-backed militants in Homs governorate, 30 Oct reportedly hit target in Damascus suburbs. Israeli sniper 16 Oct reportedly killed former Syrian Druze lawmaker in village near occupied Golan Heights. UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen 17 Oct announced Syrian Constitutional Committee agreed to start drafting new constitution during UN talks; Pedersen 22 Oct however called talks “big disappointment”.

Iran