CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations ("standby monitoring") to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Our monthly conflict tracker highlights five conflict risk alerts and one resolution opportunity related to the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on 7 October following Hamas’s unprecedented attacks (see this month’s Conflict in Focus).
We also spotlight five other alerts in November in Africa and Asia. Notably:
CrisisWatch identified twelve deteriorations in October. Notably:
Aside from the scores of conflict situations we regularly assess, we tracked significant developments in Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Gabon, Guatemala, Jordan, Lesotho, Madagascar, Moldova, Nile Waters and Togo.
What happened in October? Hamas on 7 October launched an unprecedented multi-pronged offensive into southern Israel, killing around 1,400 Israelis – the largest number of fatalities in Israel’s history – and capturing at least 200 hostages, including babies, women and elderly people. Hamas has continued firing rockets into Israel. Israel has responded with its most intense, destructive and indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza ever, which has killed at least 9,000 Palestinians, including over 3,700 children.
Why does it matter? If Israel’s response continues along the present course, it will not only raze Gaza, kill thousands more Palestinians and compound the humanitarian catastrophe facing 2.3 million people, but it risks igniting a regional conflagration that would pose a far graver danger to Israel itself.
What to watch in the coming weeks? Questions remain about how and to what end Israel will pursue its campaign in Gaza. Smashing Hamas’s military capabilities through a ground invasion is likely to be a drawn-out, bloody affair with no guarantee of success or vision for what would come next. If Israel continues to thwart the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, including especially fuel, disease and starvation will stalk those who survive the relentless bombardment.
Deadly clashes between Israeli forces and Hizbollah on Israel’s northern border could escalate in intensity and frequency. The pair may be a single, bloody attack away from a large-scale confrontation. Alternatively, Hizbollah might feel compelled to intervene to protect its partner Hamas once an Israeli invasion threatens to destroy the group.
Another flashpoint is in the West Bank, where Israeli settler militias have killed Palestinians in increasing numbers since 7 October. Palestinians may resort to greater protests and resistance, to which Israel could respond disproportionately with far-reaching consequences for all the occupied Palestinian territories.
What should be done? Neither the Gaza war nor the Israeli-Palestinian conflict writ large has a military solution. The current crisis serves to underline the pressing need for a return to a viable peace process that is inclusive of the main stakeholders.
The best short-term option is for the U.S. and its allies to press Israel to pause the bombardment, honour its pledge to allow humanitarian access to Gaza and lay out conditions for a permanent ceasefire, including for Gaza’s reconstruction. Hamas and Palestinian militants, in turn, would end rocket fire from Gaza, release all hostages and cede a significant level of their power in the Strip.
Meanwhile, even as Western countries work to stop the war from spreading, they might also plant the seeds for discussions about broader regional de-escalation, which will be necessary for lasting peace and security.
Armed clashes continued at low level in north, and former president staged political comeback.
Military 3 Oct reportedly repelled suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) attack in Koualou area, Atakora department. Meanwhile, former President Thomas Boni Yayi 14-15 Oct reassumed leadership of party he founded, The Democrats, during party congress in Parakou town, Borgou department; Boni Yayi’s return to political stage could signal desire to challenge as-of-yet undesignated heir of term-limited President Talon in general elections set for 2026.
Junta purged disloyal elements within armed forces following alleged coup attempt in September, while violence remained widespread across country.
Authorities dismissed head of gendarmerie. After govt late Sept claimed to have foiled coup attempt, with several senior officials of national gendarmerie and army’s special forces among alleged plotters, interim President Capt. Traoré 4 Oct replaced gendarmerie chief of staff; defence minister same day suspended eight officers and three non-commissioned officers. Media outlets including Paris-based Jeune Afrique early Oct reported that Traoré boosted his personal security, including by stationing armoured vehicles around his office in capital Ouagadougou.
Govt continued to tighten control of civic space. Council of ministers 4 Oct adopted draft bill which would, among other measures, give head of state authority to appoint president of High Council of Communication. Association of Journalists of Burkina Faso next day dismissed bill as “total negation of press freedom”. President of transitional legislature, Ousmane Bougouma, 9 Oct submitted report on politico-institutional reforms to govt, notably calling for elections to be administered by Ministry of Territorial Administration instead of independent commission. General Confederation of Workers of Burkina Faso, most influential trade union in country, 18 Oct accused govt of taking “liberticidal” measures, including forced recruitment of civilians into govt-aligned vigilante groups and closure of media outlets.
Jihadist violence remained elevated across country. In East region, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 11 Oct ambushed special police unit in Yamba town, Gourma province, killing 27 officers, with retaliatory govt airstrikes allegedly killing around 30 militants. In North region, presumed JNIM militants 2 Oct killed around ten civilians in Pogoro-Silmimossi village, Yatenga province, and next day killed unknown number of army auxiliaries (VDPs) and lost ten of their own fighters in attack on Tibou village, Loroum province. In Boucle du Mouhoun region, special police units and VDPs 3 Oct allegedly killed between ten and 40 presumed JNIM militants in Ouarinogo village, Sourou province, while presumed JNIM fighters 6 Oct killed 12 students in besieged town of Nouna, Kossi province.
President Ndayishimiye reshuffled govt in apparent attempt to ensure loyalty of inner circle amid ruling party divisions.
Govt reshuffle exposed ruling party divisions. PM Gervais Ndirakobuca 2 Oct presented review of govt performance to parliament, acknowledging achievement gaps in several sectors, including interior, justice and education. However, govt reshuffle announced next day seemed to reward ministers for their loyalty, rather than performance, with President Ndayishimiye replacing health, agriculture, public service and youth ministers, while those in charge of poorly performing sectors stayed on. Reshuffle came as Sec Gen of ruling party, Révérien Ndikuriyo, recently toured country in apparent attempt to bolster his popularity; Ndikuriyo’s mounting ambitions could presage growing frictions with Ndayishimiye.
Authorities arrested opposition party leader. Authorities 17 Oct arrested head of opposition party Council for Democracy and Sustainable Development in Burundi, Kefa Nibizi, over accusations of undermining state security days after party blamed “unprecedented misery” on “failing leadership”; Nibizi granted provisional release 21 Oct. In separate development, Supreme Court 2 Oct denied bail to former PM Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, who has been held in pre-trial detention since April on charges of undermining state security.
Burundi saw wins and losses at UN Human Rights Council. UN General Assembly 10 Oct elected Burundi and 14 other member states to Human Rights Council for three-year term. Human Rights Council 12 Oct extended mandate of special rapporteur for Burundi for another year, citing continued “human rights violations and abuses” in country; Gitega expressed frustration, saying resolution was politically motivated. UN special rapporteur 25 Oct presented annual report on situation of human rights in Burundi to UN General Assembly, noted “shrinking civic space” and “growing pressure on political parties, civil society organisations and the media” ahead of 2025 legislative and municipal elections.
Anglophone regions observed general strike on self-proclaimed independence anniversary, as separatists redoubled efforts to reduce internal wrangling and come closer to Nigerian separatists.
Anglophone conflict continued. Anglophone regions 1 Oct went silent on anniversaries of British Southern Cameroons’ 1961 reunification with Francophone Republic of Cameroon and 2017 unilateral declaration of independence by now-detained Anglophone leader Sisiku Ayuk Tabe. Most residents 30 Sept-2 Oct stayed indoors as businesses closed and transportation halted. Some administrators in South West regional capital Buea sanctioned businesses observing general strike. Low-level violence persisted: Ambazonia Defence Forces 4 Oct killed two men they accused of spying for govt forces in Batibo town (North West region), and govt forces 12 Oct killed six suspected separatist rebels in Akwaya subdivision (South West). Meanwhile, Anglophone separatist groups 5-8 Oct met in Canada to draw up plans to reduce internal wrangling and splintering of movement. Ayaba Cho Lucas’ Ambazonia Governing Council and Nigerian separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) factional leader Simon Ekpa 21 Oct signed cooperation agreement in Finland’s capital Helsinki, pledging mutual assistance in their respective separatist struggles. Following petition by 30 U.S. Congress members, U.S. President Biden 6 Oct extended Temporary Protected Status for Cameroonians for additional 18 months on account of thousands of people fleeing Anglophone conflict.
Jihadist and intercommunal violence persisted in Far North region. Authorities in Mayo-Sava division 3 Oct enforced night curfew in Mora and Kolofata towns in response to increasing jihadist violence. Boko Haram militants 4 Oct killed two vigilante members in Grea village, Mayo-Sava. Unidentified jihadist group same day kidnapped local chief and two staff members from multinational company in Bargaram locality, Logone-et-Chari division. Meanwhile, Kotoko farmers and Choa Arab herders 6 Oct clashed in Makary, Logone-et-Chari, with one killed and four injured.
Unknown assailants launched rare mass kidnappings in North region. Unidentified gunmen 21 and 23 Oct kidnapped at least 50 people near Touboro town in North region.
Rebel groups continued low-intensity attacks in hinterland amid military operations by govt forces and allies.
Rebel activity persisted across country despite operations by govt forces and allies. In Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture, alliance of major rebel groups Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) 2 Oct attacked gold mine near Birbatouma village, prompting riposte from military, with fighting reported next day near Ndélé town; govt forces and Russian paramilitary Wagner Group 30 Oct launched search operation in same area. In Haute-Kotto prefecture, reinforced presence of UN mission (MINUSCA) peacekeepers around Ouadda town in Oct led elements of Gen Mohamed Moussa’s Party of the Rally of the Central African Nation and other CPC-affiliated groups to leave Ouadda and relocate further north to Sam-Ouandja area in Vakaga prefecture, while other fighters returned to Bria-Yalinga-Nzacko triangle in southern Haute-Kotto. Meanwhile, as influx of Sudanese refugees toward Am Dafok and Birao towns in Vakaga prefecture continued, armed elements allegedly belonging to paramilitary Rapid Support Forces of Gen Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo reportedly engaged in opportunistic crimes around Birao.
Agropastoral conflicts continued to claim lives. After herder-farmer violence in Sept affected Miamani area in Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture, several similar incidents reported in Oct in Ouham-Pendé prefecture. Notably, armed Fulani herders 10 Oct clashed with group of armed individuals in Bossemptélé sub-prefecture, and violence 12 Oct broke out between armed herders and residents in Bézéré village, leading to deaths of three soldiers who had been deployed to area; armed elements of CPC-affiliated 3R rebel group late Oct abducted a dozen individuals near Bohong village over accusations of cattle theft. In Lobaye prefecture, transhumant herders armed with assault rifles 22 Oct shot one farmer dead and wounded another.
UN urged Bangui to launch inclusive dialogue ahead of 2024 local elections. Valentine Rugwabiza, UN Special Representative and head of MINUSCA, 26 Oct presented Sec Gen’s report on Central African Republic to UN Security Council ahead of vote on mandate renewal expected in Nov. Rugwabiza highlighted govt’s progress in advancing peace process, and urged Bangui to engage in inclusive dialogue with political opposition and armed groups ahead of local elections scheduled for Oct 2024.
Authorities arrested dozens after opposition leader announced imminent return from exile.
Interim President Déby strengthened grip on security apparatus. Déby 21 Sept and 9 Oct conducted two important army reshuffles, with 66 new generals appointed, majority of them from ruling clan. Meanwhile, online media Tchad One 7-8 Oct reported elements of elite force that includes presidential guard attempted to overthrow Déby; govt did not react to claim.
Opposition leader delayed return from exile amid crackdown on supporters. Succès Masra, exiled president of Les Transformateurs party, 5 Oct informed public security ministry of his return to Chad on 18 Oct. In response, police 8 Oct arrested over 70 party supporters, citing risk to public order. Govt 14 Oct said negotiations for Masra’s return were continuing under Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) auspices, and Masra next day announced postponing return until early Nov at request of ECCAS facilitator, Congolese President Tshisekedi. Security forces 20 Oct deployed to N’Djamena in anticipation of unrest on one-year anniversary of deadly crackdown on opposition protests. Kinshasa 31 Oct announced agreement between Chad’s govt and Masra for latter’s return.
Herder-farmer conflict flared up in Moyen-Chari province. After apparent lull in herder-farmer violence in Moyen-Chari province since Dec 2022, conflict between herders and farmers late Sept escalated in Korbol department, near Lake Iro, resulting in around ten people killed as rebel group Movement for Peace, Reconstruction and Development entered fray.
In other important developments. Amid growing hostility to French presence, over 20 leaders of political parties and civil society organisations, both in Chad and among diaspora, 10 Oct sent letter to Déby to request withdrawal of French troops from Chad.
President Ouattara reshuffled govt in wake of landslide victory in September local elections, while opposition remained in disarray.
Ouattara revamped leadership team, keeping tight grip on power. After ruling party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) won landslide victory in Sept regional and municipal elections, President Ouattara 6 Oct dismissed PM Patrick Achi, and 16 Oct appointed governor of Abidjan and RHDP heavyweight Robert Beugré Mambé as new PM. Appointment came as a surprise to many observers who expected more political appointment giving indication about Ouattara’s succession plans ahead of 2025 presidential election. Mambé 18 Oct announced new govt mostly composed of previous govt’s key figures; reconciliation ministry abolished, which suggests that opposition’s poor performance in local elections bolstered RHDP confidence; Mambé himself took charge of sports ministry as country prepares to host Africa Cup of Nations football competition in Jan. Meanwhile, senators 12 Oct elected Ouattara’s close ally, former FM Kandia Camara, as head of upper legislature.
Opposition struggled to come to terms with electoral defeat. Former President Laurent Gbagbo 6 Oct circulated memo within his opposition party African People’s Party-Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI) announcing audit of local election campaigns; 23 Oct reshuffled PPA-CI leadership, notably replacing party’s executive president, sec gen and spokesperson. Amid power struggle within Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) following death in Aug of long-time leader Henri Konan Bédié and electoral defeat in Sept, PDCI 14 Oct scheduled extraordinary party congress for 16 Dec to elect new president.
Large-scale fighting between M23 rebels and govt forces resumed in North Kivu after six months of precarious calm, fuelling tensions with Rwanda; political climate remained heated ahead of December elections.
Ceasefire between M23 and govt collapsed in North Kivu province. Wazalendo coalition of pro-govt armed groups 9 Oct seized strategic town of Kitshanga in Masisi territory from M23 rebel group after intense fighting, and around 11 Oct drove M23 from their stronghold of Bwiza (Bwito chiefdom) in neighbouring Rutshuru territory. Violence 15 Oct flared in Bwito’s Tongo and Bishusha groupements, and M23 overnight 22-23 Oct reportedly killed over 50 civilians in several villages of Tongo. Fighting also reported around 21 Oct in Masisi, with M23 regaining control of Kitshanga. Direct clashes between M23 and govt forces 24 Oct resumed at Kibumba town in Nyiragongo territory, about 20km north of provincial capital Goma. M23 rebels 25-26 Oct opened new front, seizing Bambo town in Rutshuru territory, 60km from Goma. Kinshasa 23-24 Oct released drone footage purportedly showing Rwandan army incursion into DR Congo in support of M23. Meanwhile, UN regional envoy 17 Oct said risk of “direct confrontation” between Kigali and Kinshasa is “very real” (see Rwanda).
Presidential election candidates engaged in heated rhetoric. Electoral commission 19 Oct published list 24 candidates registered for 20 Dec presidential election, pending Constitutional Court confirmation expected 18 Nov. Harsh rhetoric continued between candidates. Notably, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege 2 Oct called current leadership “inconsistent, irresponsible and incompetent”, while incumbent President Tshisekedi 7 Oct warned against “candidates from abroad” in thinly veiled reference to Mukwege. Opposition seemed unable to build electoral alliance to rally behind single candidate against Tshisekedi. Fuelling divisions, prominent candidate Martin Fayulu 10 Oct said he was only candidate fit for the role and dismissed other candidates as “thieves”.
In other important developments. Suspected Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces 23 Oct killed at least 26 civilians in Oicha town, Beni territory in North Kivu. Tshisekedi 12 Oct announced easing of state of siege (akin to martial law) in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, notably lifting curfew and allowing peaceful demonstrations, with military remaining in charge at provincial level.
Authorities rejected Ethiopian PM’s calls for direct access to sea, laying bare deteriorating bilateral relations; govt continued to expand regional partnerships.
Asmara dismissed Abiy’s calls for negotiations over sea access. In audio released 13 Oct, Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed said that securing direct access to sea (Ethiopia has been landlocked since 1993 Eritrean independence) is vital for Ethiopia’s development and stressed historic links to Red Sea; he called for open discussions with neighbours about possible solutions and warned that Ethiopia’s lack of access was potential source of future conflict. Eritrea 16 Oct responded harshly, dismissing “excessive discourses” on water and sea access and emphasising that Asmara will not “be drawn into such alleys and platforms”. Response laid bare worsening relations between Addis and Asmara, with latter fearful that its larger neighbour may have territorial ambitions.
Eritrea continued to strengthen regional ties. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud 8-9 Oct visited Asmara amid concerted Eritrean efforts to enhance bilateral relations. High-level delegation led by FM Osman Saleh 12 Oct travelled to Egypt to discuss Sudan conflict with Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry; delegation 14 Oct met with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Meanwhile, delegation led by Ambassador Negasi Sengal 23-24 Oct attended Forum on China-Africa cooperation in Chinese capital Beijing.
Violence in Amhara and Oromia regions remained rampant, and PM Abiy’s calls for sea access rattled Ethiopia’s neighbours amid deteriorating relations with Eritrea.
Fano-federal fighting continued in Amhara region. Clashes between federal forces and Amhara nationalist militia known as Fano occurred in rural areas and small towns of Amhara’s North Wollo, South Wollo, West Gojjam, East Gojjam and North Shewa zones, as well as Oromia region’s North Shewa Zone. Indications mid Oct surfaced that military is planning final offensive to “eliminate” Fano, though rebellion’s decentralised structure will likely complicate efforts. Ethiopian Human Rights Commission 30 Oct warned of high civilian casualties.
Hostilities in Oromia persisted amid rising risk of intercommunal violence. Clashes between govt forces and Oromo Liberation Army continued throughout Oct. Govt drone strikes 7-8 Oct in Horo Guduru Wollega Zone killed at least twelve. In North Shewa’s Dera Woreda (home to significant number of Amharas), federal forces fought OLA and Fano; with both insurgencies operating in area, risk of ethnically motivated attacks on Amhara and Oromo civilians is high. Kidnappings-for-ransom continued to rise. Notably, suspected OLA militants 3 Oct abducted nine civilians from Sululta city, demanding 300,000 birr (approx $5,500) per victim; 19 Oct abducted unknown number of Chinese nationals.
Abiy’s calls for talks on sea access laid bare deteriorating relations with Eritrea. In audio released 13 Oct, PM Abiy pronounced that securing direct access to sea (Ethiopia has been landlocked since 1993 Eritrean independence) is vital for Ethiopia’s development and stressed historic links to Red Sea; he called for open discussions with neighbours and warned that Ethiopia’s lack of access was potential source of future conflict. Eritrea 16 Oct said “discourses” on water and sea access had become “excessive” and emphasised that Asmara will not “be drawn into such alleys”; response revealed deteriorating relations between Addis and Asmara (see Eritrea). Somalia and Djibouti 17, 19 Oct respectively rejected Abiy’s appeal for talks.
In other important developments. Situation in Tigray region remained static. UN humanitarian agency 9 Oct warned that “drought-like conditions” in parts of Amhara, Tigray, Somali and Afar regions have increased food insecurity. Third round of talks on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam 24 Oct concluded without breakthrough (see Nile Waters).
Coup leader visited several Central African countries to press for reintegration into regional organisations.
Junta leader, Gen Brice Oligui Nguema, in late Sept embarked on regional tour in bid to get Gabon’s suspension from Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and African Union reversed. Nguema notably met with presidents of Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda, but has yet to secure meeting with Cameroon’s head of state, Paul Biya. Meanwhile, U.S. President Biden 30 Oct announced plans to expel Gabon and three other African countries from special U.S.-Africa trade program on grounds of “gross violations” of human rights or absence of progress toward democratic rule.
Junta continued to restrict press freedom and fundamental rights; ECOWAS court of justice ordered release of deposed President Condé-era ministers.
Crackdown on journalists sparked outcry from opposition. Union of journalists (SPPG) 16 Oct held demonstration in capital Conakry calling on authorities to lift restrictions on privately-owned news website Guinee Matin, which has been inaccessible within Guinea since mid-Aug; police and gendarmerie enforced ban on protests and dispersed rally, reportedly injuring three journalists and arresting a dozen, who were freed later that day but charged with “participating in an unlawful assembly”. Opposition movements Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, Union of Republican Forces, and National Front for the Defence of the Constitution immediately condemned crackdown and restrictions imposed by junta on fundamental freedoms. Deposed President Alpha Condé’s Rally of the Guinean People 21 Oct followed suit, calling for “coalition of forces” to protect journalists. Telecommunications Minister Ousmane Gaoual Diallo 17 Oct announced defamation suit against Sec Gen of journalist union, Sékou Jamal Pendessa, who accused Gaoual Diallo of engineering restrictions on Guinee Matin. SPPG 29 Oct announced plans to hold new march on 6 Nov.
In another important development. Court of Justice of West African regional bloc ECOWAS 16 Oct ruled continued detentions of former PM Ibrahima Kassory Fofana and two Condé-era ministers were “arbitrary”, ordered their immediate release; authorities have three months to comply with judgement.
Parliament extended bipartisan talks between govt and opposition, border dispute between Kericho and Kisumu counties turned deadly, and court paused police deployment to Haiti.
President Ruto reshuffled cabinet, parliament extended bipartisan talks. Ruto 4 Oct replaced eight cabinet ministers, notably moving FM Alfred Mutua to Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, adding foreign affairs ministry to Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi’s portfolio. National Assembly 17 Oct approved 30-day extension of bipartisan talks between govt and opposition, giving National Dialogue Committee until 28 Nov to submit report.
Intercommunal clashes flared on Kericho-Kisumu border. Armed individuals from Kericho county 4 Oct reportedly raided East Kadiang’a location near disputed Sondu town in Kisumu county, killing seven and allegedly targeting hospital; govt 5 Oct announced deployment of special police units to area to contain violence.
Al-Shabaab continued operations in eastern counties bordering Somalia. In Garissa county, two Al-Shabaab fighters 3 Oct died while attempting to set up explosive device in Amuma area; security forces in second half of Oct destroyed at least two Al-Shabaab logistics bases in Fafi constituency, where police 17 and 30 Oct Oct killed at least five al-Shabaab militants; explosive device 30 Oct killed two security officers near Dadaab town. U.S. embassy in Kenya 13 Oct issued security alert, warning of “potentially imminent [terrorist] attacks” in capital Nairobi and elsewhere.
Court temporarily suspended police deployment to Haiti. UN Security Council 2 Oct approved deployment of Kenyan-led multinational police force to combat gang violence in Haiti; Nairobi volunteered to lead international force in Haiti as part of Ruto’s efforts to signal Kenya is reliable foreign affairs partner. However, High Court 9 Oct temporarily suspended deployment, and 24 Oct extended suspension until 9 Nov pending decision on opposition’s petition citing concerns over constitutionality of deploying police officers abroad.
Political tensions ran high as opposition tabled motion of no-confidence in govt, prompting security forces to threaten intervention.
Opposition 16 Oct submitted motion of no-confidence against PM Sam Matekane’s govt, with 61 MPs out of 120 in parliament pledging support for motion; vote deferred after Matekane resorted to court to challenge move. Police and army same day called on opposition not to go ahead with no-confidence motion, saying they would only work with current govt. Security forces 18 Oct briefly detained leader of opposition party Socialist Revolutionaries Teboho Mojapela. Matekane 26 Oct wrote to Southern African Development Community (SADC) arguing that opposition’s move aims to “subvert our democratic norms and principles” and could usher in period of “political uncertainty”. Opposition parties next day wrote to SADC highlighting threat of military coup, as well as harassment of Mojapela and other opposition figures. South African outlet News24 31 Oct reported that Matekane had gained support of opposition party Basotho Action Party, with their six seats returning parliamentary majority to his control and seemingly ending prospect of no-confidence vote.
Authorities violently dispersed opposition rallies denouncing govt interference in electoral process; political tensions could rise further and fuel violence around mid-November presidential election.
Opposition protests left two presidential candidates injured. Opposition coalition of 11 presidential candidates in Oct continued to protest to denounce lack of level playing field and demand disqualification of incumbent President Rajoelina from presidential race, saying he holds dual citizenship. Police and soldiers 2 and 7 Oct dispersed opposition rallies in capital Antananarivo with tear gas and rubber bullets, reportedly leaving opposition presidential candidates Andry Raobelina and Marc Ravalomanana injured. Amid unrest, High Constitutional Court (HCC) 12 Oct ordered one-week postponement of first round of presidential election to 16 Nov. Opposition demonstrations continued on almost daily basis until month’s end.
Tensions engulfed ruling party. Senate President Herimanana Razafimahefa 9 Oct said he had renounced interim presidency in Sept under pressure from govt officials, including death threats. In extraordinary session, ruling party-dominated senate 12 Oct voted to dismiss Razafimahefa on grounds of “mental deficiency”. Razafimahefa same day referred decision to HCC, which 28 Oct rejected appeal; HCC same day named new Senate President Richard Ravalomanana as interim president, reversing previous decision to put PM Christian Ntsay at head of “collegiate govt”. Collective of opposition candidates called Ravalomanana’s installation “very serious breach of the Constitution”. National Assembly President Christine Razanamahasoa 17 Oct highlighted “democratic backsliding”, calling for action from international community to prevent “internecine war”; colleagues in ruling party immediately denounced her remarks.
International community expressed concern over deteriorating political climate. UN Human Rights Office 10 Oct warned of “deteriorating human rights situation” in lead-up to presidential election, saying security forces used “unnecessary and disproportionate force” against peaceful opposition protesters. In joint statement, EU, U.S. and other govts 16 Oct expressed “worry” over “tense political climate”.
Military authorities appeared committed to taking control of 2015 peace deal signatories’ stronghold of Kidal, and could launch offensive in days or weeks to come.
Escalation between former rebel groups and govt forces continued in north. In Kidal region, govt and allied Russian paramilitary Wagner Group 7 Oct carried out strikes and took control of Anefis town from Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), which gathers northern armed groups signatory to 2015 peace agreement. As part of second phase of withdrawal, UN mission (MINUSMA) mid-Oct started leaving Tessalit and Aguelhok camps in Kidal region; two Malian military planes that landed in Tessalit to take control of base 16 Oct came under fire from CSP-affiliated Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), who worry arrival of Malian troops in Tessalit may be last step before offensive on Kidal town. CSP 31 Oct claimed takeover of vacated MINUSMA camp in Kidal town. Meanwhile in Gao region, CMA 2 and 4 Oct claimed seizing Bamba and Taoussa bases from army. Divisions emerged within CSP as founding member Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) late Sept announced departure from coalition over CMA’s bellicose stance toward govt; MSA Sec Gen 8 Oct said conflict only benefited jihadists, and several other CSP members also expressed commitment to peace.
Jihadist violence continued in centre and north. In centre, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 7 Oct ambushed soldiers near Batouma, Douentza region, killing 16, and 10 Oct ambushed joint convoy of army, Dan Na Ambassagou militiamen, and Wagner near Sibo village, Bandiagara region, claiming to have killed ten. Civilians continued to pay heavy toll in north. Wagner 8 Oct allegedly killed seven civilians in Takoukate village, Kidal region, while Wagner and govt forces 15 Oct reportedly killed six civilians and committed sexual abuse in Agumeimin and Tichilit villages, Timbuktu region.
Political tensions continued around postponed presidential election. Prominent religious and political figure, Imam Mahmoud Dicko, convened demonstration for 13 Oct in capital Bamako to protest indefinite delay to presidential election, while pro-govt civil society organisation called for counterprotest; authorities 9 Oct banned both gatherings, citing “high risk of unrest”.
Protests erupted as opposition denounced fraud in municipal elections, with violence and repression leaving several people dead; insurgent activity remained low in northern Cabo Delgado province.
Municipal elections marred by deadly violence. Municipal elections, seen as test for presidential election due in 2024, held 11 Oct. Election day went relatively smoothly, but violence broke out in following days. Notably, police 12 Oct brutally dispersed gathering of RENAMO opposition party supporters in Chiúre district, Cabo Delgado province, killing 16-year-old boy. Ruling FRELIMO party 15 Oct claimed victory in all but one of 65 municipalities. Opposition immediately accused FRELIMO of influencing vote counting and 17 Oct held nationwide protests; police crackdown reportedly left dozens wounded notably in capital Maputo and Nampula city. Unrest worsened after electoral commission 26 Oct confirmed FRELIMO’s victory in all but one municipality. Opposition supporters 27 Oct took to streets in several cities to decry results and dismiss elections as rigged; police suppressed protests notably in Nampula, with nine civilians and one police officer reportedly injured, and 60 people detained. Violence next day broke out again, including in Maputo as security forces reportedly used tear gas and live bullets to disperse protesters; at least three people killed. Police late Oct accused RENAMO of using homemade explosives during unrest, while National Human Rights Commission 30 Oct criticised “indiscriminate” use of force by police against demonstrators.
Activity of Islamic State-affiliated militants remained limited in Cabo Delgado. In Macomia district, suspected Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) militants 13 Oct killed two hunters near Chai village, and around 20 Oct reportedly kidnapped two fishermen near Litandacua village. In Mocímboa da Praia district, fear of ISMP attacks early Oct led to displacement of almost 5,000 people from several villages; local source claimed militants 16 Oct kidnapped at least three men from Awasse village.
Islamic State launched deadly attack on military in south-western region, confirming increase in jihadist violence since July coup; France began troop withdrawal.
Major attack confirmed rise in jihadist violence in south west. In Tahoua region, Islamic State-Sahel Province (IS Sahel) 2 Oct ambushed military in Tabatol village, Tillia department; govt claimed 29 soldiers killed though locals reported total may be much higher. Recrudescence of jihadist attacks reported in neighbouring Tillabery region since July coup continued. IS Sahel militants 10 Oct killed 11 civilians in Karkatia village, Bankilare department, and 16 Oct clashed with troops in several areas of Bankilare and Tera departments, reportedly leading to dozens of casualties on both sides.
Standoff with France and others continued. French soldiers early Oct began withdrawal from Tillabery region; departure of 1,500 troops due to be completed by year’s end will likely cause logistical, security, and political challenges. Govt 10 Oct also expelled UN resident coordinator in Niger, Louise Aubin, citing “underhanded manoeuvres” by UN, including non-accreditation of Niger’s representatives at international conferences. Meanwhile, U.S. same day formally acknowledged July military takeover was coup, suspended $500mn in development aid.
Algiers’ mediation attempt suffered setback. Niamey 3 Oct denied having accepted Algerian mediation promoting six-month transition to restore constitutional order, emphasised transition duration could only be decided by “inclusive national forum”, and Algiers 9 Oct announced putting mediation efforts on hold pending “clarifications” (see Algeria).
In another important development. Authorities 19 Oct alleged deposed President Bazoum attempted to escape from house arrest with help of local and foreign actors, though those close to former president denied claim. Public prosecutor at Niamey court of appeal 31 Oct said investigation was under way and 23 people had been arrested in connection with case.
Supreme Court upheld President Tinubu’s election win, while levels of criminal, jihadist and separatist violence remained high across country.
Tinubu’s presidential win confirmed. Supreme Court 26 Oct refused to overturn Feb election of Bola Tinubu as president, ending legal challenge brought by his rivals, who had argued vote was flawed and Tinubu was not qualified to run.
Suspected jihadists launched deadly attacks in North East. Suspected Islamic State West Africa Province militants 30-31 Oct shot at villagers and set off land mine in Gaidam area of Yobe state, killing at least 37 people. After Bauchi state in Sept reported rising violence, state governor 9 Oct said 67 armed group members killed and 29 abductees rescued during recent security operation in Tafawa Balewa area; attacks continued in Bauchi, however, with gunmen 15 Oct killing nine members of vigilante group in Ningi area. Meanwhile, pro-govt militia group Civilian Joint Task Force 1 Oct announced dismissal of founding leader Lawan Jafar over corruption allegation; move may hamper operations against jihadist groups in North East due to Jafar’s standing among militia members.
Criminal violence continued unabated in North West and North Central zones. Security operations against armed groups, including 10-11 Oct air strikes in Maru area of Zamfara state, remained inadequate to stem attacks and mass abductions. Notably, gunmen 16 Oct killed three and abducted 50 in mining village in Anka area, Zamfara. States of Kaduna, Benue, Niger and Nasarawa in Oct also saw abductions and killings by armed groups.
Targeted killings continued in South East. Following several attacks in Sept on security and state officials in Imo state, suspected Biafra separatists mid-Oct hacked to death Ebonyi state university official during visit to Imo town. Meanwhile, two major factions of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) separatist group issued contradictory messages on future plans; self-proclaimed PM of Biafra Republic Government in Exile, Simon Ekpa, who in Aug declared himself commander of new Biafra Liberation Army, 5 Oct said Biafran authorities would “soon start full government”; however, mainstream faction two days later said group was open to talks with federal govt on Biafran independence, offering opportunity for Tinubu to start dialogue.
Third round of talks on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) concluded without breakthrough.
Third round of talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan regarding rules for first filling and annual operation of GERD 24 Oct concluded in Egypt’s capital Cairo. Sides failed to make progress, with Cairo accusing Addis of refusing to compromise, but agreed to fourth round of talks in Ethiopia.
Resurgence of large-scale hostilities involving M23 militia in eastern DR Congo fuelled inflammatory rhetoric between Kigali and Kinshasa, as UN highlighted risk of direct conflict.
As violence early Oct flared between M23 rebel group, made up primarily of ethnic Tutsi combatants, and coalition of armed groups aligned with Congolese govt (see DR Congo), North Kivu military governor 10 Oct blamed “massacre” of seven civilians, who were found dead same day near Rumangabo military base (40km north of North Kivu’s capital Goma), on M23 and Rwanda Defence Force “terrorists”. At Security Council meeting, UN special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region, Huang Xia, 17 Oct said risk of “direct confrontation” between Rwanda and DR Congo is “very real”, citing “military build-up” by both countries, “absence of direct high-level dialogue”, and “persistence of hate speech” as worrying signs. Both countries in following days continued to trade blame for violence as direct clashes between M23 and Congolese govt forces resumed in North Kivu. Kigali 23 Oct said Rwandan citizen was injured along border by stray bullet originating from DR Congo, accused coalition of “Kinshasa-backed illegal armed groups” of responsibility; also said Kinshasa’s “ongoing support” for Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda rebels and other armed groups “is escalating provocative actions along the Rwandan border”. Kinshasa 23-24 Oct released drone footage purportedly showing Rwandan army incursion into DR Congo to reinforce M23 positions in North Kivu, and said it had referred matter to joint verification mechanism set up as part of Luanda process.
Election-related tensions grew further in Puntland, raising prospect of armed confrontation in lead-up to polls set for early 2024; offensive against Al-Shabaab continued to produce mixed results.
Political dispute worsened in Puntland state. Puntland President Said Deni 10 Oct returned to Puntland after near two-month absence and reaffirmed commitment to hold direct parliamentary and presidential elections by Jan 2024. Opposition continued to accuse him of seeking to use transition to universal suffrage to extend term or set rules in his favour. Notably, representatives of Mideeye and Horseed political associations 10-11 Oct met near Puntland capital Garowe and called for return to clan-based system for Puntland’s elections, also agreeing to form joint front against Deni; absent dialogue between Puntland govt and opposition, alliance further raises prospect of violent confrontations ahead of polls as opposition parties have troops at their disposal. Electoral authorities 23 Oct reaffirmed commitment to hold direct presidential election, but pushed date back to 25 Feb 2024, further raising tensions.
President Mohamud returned from frontlines as insecurity persisted. Mohamud 7 Oct returned to capital Mogadishu after two months in Galmudug state capital Dhusamareb, where his attempts to revive govt’s offensive against Al-Shabaab yielded mixed results. Notably, several clan communities in southern Mudug region agreed to join fight against al-Shabaab, but similar discussions about forming clan alliance against Al-Shabaab in northern Galgaduud region have yet to bear fruit. Militants continued to put up stiff resistance in Galmudug: local sources reported Al-Shabaab attack on clan militia positions in Bar Ujeed area 14 Oct resulted in dozens of casualties. In Hirshabelle state, govt 12 Oct announced it had pushed militants back across Shabelle river with help from AU mission (ATMIS) after Al-Shabaab crossed it mid-Sept. Southwest state President Laftagareen 7 Oct also promised to initiate second phase of anti-Al-Shabaab operations, and federal officials including defence minister 28 Oct arrived in Diinsoor district (Bay region) to coordinate operations. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab car bomb attack 21 Oct killed at least six people at military facility on outskirts of Mogadishu.
In another important development. AU Peace and Security Council 5 Oct backed Somalia’s request to UN to pause ATMIS withdrawal for three months.
Govt messaging signalled desire to retake territory lost to Dhulbahante clan militias in Sool region.
Tensions remained high between govt and Dhulbahante clan forces in Sool region. In strongest public comment since Somaliland army’s pull-out from Dhulbahante-inhabited parts of Sool region in late Aug, President Bihi 14 Oct said Somaliland would not accept separate administration in Sool. Reports emerged of troop mobilisation in Qorilugud area near Buhoodle city, which could augur attempt to retake territory in coming months. Meanwhile, leader of SSC-Khatumo state (new self-declared administration for Dhulbahante community) Abdulkadir Firdhiye 6-22 Oct visited Somali capital Mogadishu, reiterated desire to form new Somali member state during talks with Somali PM Hamza Abdi Barre and President Mohamud; local media 19 Oct reported that Mogadishu recognised SSC-Khatumo as interim administration.
Clan tensions erupted elsewhere. Clan tensions late Sept-early Oct flared around Togdheer region’s capital Burco and Sanaag region’s capital Erigabo, resulting in small skirmishes; SSC-Khatumo 18 Oct accused Bihi of “inciting hatred” among clans.
Electoral dispute de-escalated further. Electoral-related strains continued to dissipate after Gacaan Libaah militia, which originally opposed August agreement between Bihi and opposition to simultaneously hold political party and presidential elections on 13 Nov 2024, late Sept agreed to lay down arms. Election-related tensions continued to simmer in Awdal region, however, with some prominent Gadabursi clan figures attempting to organise themselves both inside and outside Somaliland.
UN denounced repression of civil society amid growing concerns about readiness for 2024 election, key opposition commanders defected to govt, and insecurity continued in several states.
UN condemned govt repression amid concerns about election. UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan 5 Oct issued damning report on civic space in light of 2024 elections, accusing govt and intelligence agency of abuses against journalists and civil society members, and “extreme intolerance towards expressions of criticism”; report concluded that free and fair elections are unimaginable under current conditions. Govt next day cancelled visit of UN special rapporteur on human rights of internally displaced persons. Interim Chair of Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) – tasked with tracking implementation of 2018 peace agreement – Maj Gen Charles Tai Gituai 5 Oct warned lack of progress on election-preparedness is creating uncertainty and urged govt not to abandon constitution-making provisions of peace deal. Briefing UN Security Council, RJMEC Chief of Staff Berhanu Kebede 23 Oct highlighted importance of reconstituting Political Parties Council and National Election Commission before elections.
Collapse of main opposition movement continued unabated. In severe blow to VP Riek Machar’s diminished People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), Unity State Commander Lt. Gen Simon Maguek Gai 10 Oct defected to govt along with several division commanders; Maguek Gai returned to Leer County (Unity State) to mobilise disaffected youth, raising fears of armed confrontation with Machar’s forces; Jonglei State sector commander Lt. Gen Michael Wal Nyak 19 Oct defected. Loss of two key commanders drastically reduced SPLA-IO’s military capacity in Unity and Jonglei states.
Insecurity persisted in several states. Unknown assailants 11 Oct killed four civilians in Budi County, Eastern Equatoria state. Attack by Twic county youth 13 Oct killed four in Athonyi village, Abyei area. Skirmish between two Dinka communities 15 Oct killed three in Twic East County, Jonglei State.
Juba hosted meeting on Sudan crisis as refugees faced hunger crisis. UN World Food Program 3 Oct warned of looming hunger crisis for South Sudanese returnees fleeing war in Sudan. Juba 24-25 Oct hosted Sudan’s Juba Peace Agreement signatories for discussions on ending war.
Paramilitary forces (RSF) captured South Darfur state, marking major turn in war, and are expected to push forward in Darfur and Kordofan in coming weeks.
RSF captured South Darfur amid series of battlefield victories. RSF scored major victories against army in Darfur region. Most notably, paramilitary 27 Oct seized army’s 16th Infantry Division in South Darfur capital Nyala, leading to total conquest of state. Elsewhere, RSF 31 Oct captured 21st Infantry Division of army in Central Darfur state capital Zalingei, and by late Oct was moving on army positions in West Darfur and North Darfur state capitals; despite North Darfur state governor and Darfur regional governor urging RSF to halt advance, paramilitary could seek to overtake army garrisons in these state capitals in coming weeks in bid to capture entire region from army. This risks dragging members of Juba Peace Agreement signatories (who until now have remained neutral) into confrontation with paramilitary forces. Hostilities in capital Khartoum, meanwhile, continued unabated.
RSF gained ground in West Kordofan as conflict spread to new fronts. In West Kordofan state, RSF 30 Oct seized Baleela airport and oilfield; forces expected to advance on remaining army garrisons across state in coming weeks in bid to take full control of region. Elsewhere, RSF expanded into White Nile State while army mobilised in Sudan’s south east and east, with new recruits headed for Khartoum allegedly reaching border towns between Gezira State and capital. In response, RSF deployed to Gezira in attempt to cut off crucial supply route for army. Meanwhile, army battled with rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan state; notably, SPLM-N 9 Oct attacked army positions in Delling town, taking control of area.
Jeddah talks resumed. U.S.-Saudi-brokered talks 28 Oct resumed in Saudi city Jeddah, with Intergovernmental Authority on Development and African Union acting as co-facilitators; civilian representatives yet to be invited. Initial rounds will not deal with political issues, but instead focus on humanitarian aid deliveries and negotiations related to ceasefire; major RSF advances, however, dampened hopes for progress on ceasefire agreement.
Jihadist militants maintained their presence in northern region.
Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 5 Oct attacked Togolese military on Koundjoare-Kpekankandi axis in Kpendjal prefecture, Savanes region, killing at least three soldiers.
ADF militants launched new attacks in Uganda as military continued operations against armed group in DR Congo; tensions ran high with South Sudan over border dispute.
ADF launched new attacks against civilians in Uganda. Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 13 Oct ambushed civilian vehicle at Katojo junction near DR Congo border, killing two, and 17 Oct killed two foreign tourists and their local guide in Queen Elizabeth National Park. President Museveni 15 Oct reported army had foiled ADF bomb plot targeting churches in Butambala district, and warned against ADF rebels engaging in retaliatory attacks on Ugandan territory amid Ugandan army operations in DR Congo. Kampala 25 Oct also announced amnesty for ADF members willing to surrender.
Authorities arrested opposition leader, thwarted “one million march”. Police 5 Oct arrested opposition party National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, at Entebbe airport on return from trip abroad; Wine said he was subsequently placed under house arrest. Police same day detained at least 40 NUP supporters in capital Kampala and elsewhere in effort to thwart what party had described as “one million march” to welcome leader home. Opposition 26 Oct walked out of parliament for third time in two weeks, demanding debate on human rights and end to repression of opposition parties.
Border dispute with South Sudan flared up. After South Sudanese authorities claimed ownership of over 20 villages in Kerwa and Kochi areas in Uganda’s Yumbe district, Ugandan troops late Sept reportedly set up bases in South Sudan’s Kajo-Keji county. South Sudan parliamentary spokesperson 1 Oct vowed not to “allow even one metre of our land to be taken by Uganda”, and Museveni 2 Oct sent ministerial delegation to Yumbe and Moyo districts. Governor of South Sudan’s Central Equatoria State and Ugandan local authorities 27 Oct met in Yumbe to resolve disputes.
Opposition continued to call for re-run of August elections, while controversy over fake letters recalling some MPs fuelled political tensions.
Opposition continued to dismiss Aug general elections as fraudulent. Main opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) 2 Oct called for new elections under international supervision, with “independent and professional” body in place of current electoral commission. Police 16 Oct banned CCC protest march in Bulawayo city. In response, CCC 18 Oct said it is “fundamental constitutional right” of citizens to protest election outcome, and warned that “when all has failed”, citizens might “take matter into [their] own hands”; also said party leader Nelson Chamisa had been mandated to pursue dialogue with President Mnangagwa to find way out of crisis. During extraordinary summit of Southern African Development Community, Angolan President Lourenço 31 Oct congratulated Mnangagwa for “exemplary” elections.
Controversy over fake letters fuelled tensions. Sengezo Tshabangu, claiming to be interim Sec Gen of CCC, early Oct recalled 15 MPs, saying they had ceased to belong to party. Chamisa immediately dismissed individual as ruling party puppet, but Parliament Speaker Jacob Mudenda declared seats vacant. Riot police 10 Oct intervened as CCC MPs protested in parliament, and Mudenda suspended all CCC MPs for six parliamentary sittings. Self-proclaimed CCC Sec Gen 10 Oct also said Chamisa had been expelled from CCC, which party denied. CCC 25 Oct said it would boycott by-elections for 15 vacated seats scheduled for 9 Dec.
In another important development. Mnangagwa 20 Oct named Lt Gen Anselem Sanyatwe, under U.S. sanctions for allegedly leading post-2018 election crackdown, as army commander, and 28 Oct appointed defence forces commander Gen Phillip Valerio Sibanda to ZANU-PF politburo; civil society activists including journalist Hopewell Chin’ono immediately decried move as unconstitutional.
Islamic State staged deadly attacks in north and capital Kabul, defying Taliban crackdown, while earthquakes in west compounded suffering and Taliban wrestled for control of embassies.
Islamic State’s local branch conducted attacks despite ongoing Taliban raids. After Taliban security forces early Sept dismantled Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) cell, Taliban-affiliated media Al Mirsad 3 Oct published confessions from the cell, which is purportedly responsible for some of largest attacks in Badakhshan province (north). Dismantling this network will likely represent blow to ISKP’s strong presence in Badakhshan, although group remains active and capable of attacks. Notably, in one of its largest attacks in months, ISKP 13 Oct assaulted mosque in Baghlan province (north), killing around seventeen Shia worshippers. ISKP claimed bomb attack 26 Oct in Kabul that killed at least four in sports club in Shia area.
Earthquakes and aftershocks in west aggravated humanitarian crisis. Powerful earthquake 7 Oct struck Herat province (west), levelling entire villages before series of shallow earthquakes and aftershocks in subsequent weeks hit region, killing over 2,000 people and destroying 2,500 homes. While humanitarian actors quickly provided $18mn in assistance, many affected communities are likely to remain in desperate need as winter fast approaches.
Taliban reportedly clamped down on anti-Pakistan militants and rival group. Following deadly militant attacks in Pakistan in Sept, reports emerged that Afghan security forces arrested hundreds of Pakistani militants and Afghan nationals involved in activities against Pakistan. Taliban forces reportedly also began clampdown on rival group Hizb ut-Tahrir countrywide, arresting dozens of members in multiple provinces.
Taliban intensified efforts to rein in Afghan embassies abroad. Afghan embassy in India 1 Oct stated it would be shutting down operations amid reports of infighting among embassy staff, pressure from Indian govt, and attempts by Taliban to takeover. In subsequent days, Afghan embassies in Netherlands and Spain announced their cooperation with de facto govt. Taliban-run foreign ministry 8 Oct issued notice advising services by Afghan embassies in London and Vienna were invalid; both posts have been most critical of Taliban govt; London embassy rejected notice.
Govt intensified repression ahead of Jan 2024 elections as opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) held large rally in capital Dhaka, leading to clashes that killed several civilians and police officer.
BNP held large-scale rally in defiance of govt crackdown. As party sought to mobilise supporters ahead of Jan 2024 elections, BNP 28 Oct held “grand rally” in Dhaka to build momentum for demanding caretaker govt ahead of Jan 2024 polls, with estimated 200,000 BNP supporters in attendance despite efforts to stop them gathering. Sporadic clashes, mainly between BNP supporters and police, prompted police to break up rally, firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Street fighting subsequently erupted across city, leaving one police officer and one civilian dead, and hundreds more injured. Violence was also reported in other major cities, with several civilians killed and scores injured. Awami League govt 29 Oct arrested de facto BNP leader and around 100 others, including senior officials, charging them with police officer’s murder; BNP claimed nearly 3,000 party officials were arrested 21-29 Oct. BNP and other opposition forces announced nationwide “hartal”, shutting down streets across Dhaka on 29 Oct, and three-day shutdown 31 Oct-2 Nov, making further clashes likely.
Financial strains persisted. Media 18 Oct reported Central Bank’s net foreign exchange reserves fell to below $17bn, equivalent to around three months of imports, and are declining by as much as $1bn per month. Govt 19 Oct reached staff-level agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) to proceed with disbursement of additional $681mn (still subject to IMF board approval).
Violence continued in Rohingya refugee camps. Paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion 2 Oct detained “financial coordinator and personal assistant” of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) chief. Gunfight with armed group 4 Oct killed member of ARSA. Suspected member of rival Rohingya Solidarity Organisation 9 Oct killed two ARSA members. Paramilitary forces 5 Oct arrested local council member in Cox’s Bazar for allegedly trafficking drugs from Myanmar and 15 Oct arrested alleged ARSA member for suspected murder of Rohingya leader in Sept 2021. Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Refugees 17 Oct requested more funding for Rohingya response to avert looming disaster.
China’s maritime presence in waters around Japan remained source of tension, Canada and Beijing blamed each other for aerial incident, and U.S. spotlighted China’s “risky” military encounters.
Japan protested China’s regional maritime presence. As of 29 Oct, Japan spotted 100 Chinese vessels in Japan’s contiguous zone, while it detected eight vessels within Japan’s territorial sea over three days. Japanese Coast Guard 16 Oct said two Chinese ships entered Japan’s territorial waters off disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, south of Minamikojima Island; Japanese Coast Guard warned Chinese vessels to leave waters. Chinese and Japanese coast guards 17 Oct confirmed that their ships faced off in waters around islands. Tokyo next day lodged protest with Beijing after Chinese research vessel “Xiangyanghong 18” was suspected of conducting unauthorised marine survey about 129km north east of Japan-controlled Taisho Island. Two Russian Tu-95 bombers accompanied by two fighter aircraft 17 Oct flew over Sea of Japan, prompting Japan to scramble its fighter jets.
Canada and China traded barbs over mid-air incident. Canada 16 Oct claimed that Chinese military plane intercepted its aircraft in “aggressive manner” in international airspace off Chinese coast; China claimed that Canadian plane was flying over Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which violated China’s sovereignty and compelled China to take necessary measures.
U.S. highlighted trend of increasing Chinese coercive action in air. U.S. Defense Department 17 Oct released collection of declassified images and videos depicting fifteen recent cases of “coercive and risky operational behavior” by China’s military against U.S. aircraft in East and South China Sea regions; U.S. claimed that it has recorded more than 180 such incidents since Autumn 2021. Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force 9-10 Oct held joint exercise with U.S. and South Korean navies in East China Sea. Japan and Australia 19 Oct agreed to include Australian troops in large-scale joint command post drills with U.S. for first time.
Ethnic conflict in Manipur continued to simmer, diplomatic row with Canada escalated further and talks with China on disputed border ended without progress; bombing targeted Christians in south.
Instability and attacks plagued Manipur state in north east. Death toll of conflict that erupted in May reached at least 176 with 67,000 displaced, as sporadic violence continued. Central Bureau of Investigation 1 Oct arrested four for alleged role in abduction and killing of two Meitei students. Video 8 Oct circulated on social media, showing tribal Kuki man lying in trench with face bludgeoned and body set on fire. Armed assailants and security forces 7 Oct exchanged fire and suspected insurgents 8 Oct hurled grenade at state minister’s house, injuring security forces member. Ten opposition parties 13 Oct submitted memorandum to governor expressing concern over lack of initiative to facilitate peace talks, criticising state and central govt for “path of non-intervention”.
Diplomatic spat with Canada deepened. After Canada in Sept alleged India had a hand in killing Sikh separatist leader, Canada 20 Oct announced withdrawal of 41 diplomats for being “in danger of having immunity stripped on an arbitrary date” by govt, which would risk their personal safety; Canadian PM Justin Trudeau same day blamed India for “making it unbelievably difficult for life as usual to continue”. U.S. and UK 21 Oct expressed concern at India’s decision to reduce staff and urged New Delhi to engage with Canadian investigation.
Talks with China ended without breakthrough. India and China 9-10 Oct held 20th round of corps commander-level talks at Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on Indian side but failed to make progress on stand-off along Line of Actual Control (LAC); both sides agreed to continue dialogue. U.S. Pentagon 19 Oct released report assessing negotiations had “made minimal progress” and noting China’s ongoing efforts to “develop military infrastructure” along LAC.
Deadly explosion targeted Christians in south. Suspected improvised explosive device 29 Oct targeted prayer meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ernakulam district, Kerala state (south), killing at least three and injuring dozens.
Opposition parties won first local election in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) since 2019, while India and Pakistan exchanged fire amid ongoing anti-militant security operations.
Kargil region of Ladakh Union Territory held council elections for first time since 2019. Coalition of Kashmir-based National Conference and national opposition Congress party 8 Oct won 22 seats on 26-member Kargil hill development council, while ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured only two seats; election was first to be held since BJP reorganised J&K into two union territories in 2019. National Conference claimed victory sent verdict that people remain opposed to reorganisation, while party leader Omar Abdullah questioned why regional elections had not been held in J&K, accusing Election Commission of “taking decision at the behest of the BJP”.
India and Pakistan traded fire as security operations continued. In ceasefire violation on 17 Oct, Pakistani and Indian border troops exchanged fire at Arnia sector of Jammu region, injuring two Pakistani guards; gunfire 27 Oct wounded four Pakistani civilians. Meanwhile, security forces 4 Oct killed two Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Kulgam district. Militant group The Resistance Front in Anantnag district same day fatally wounded teenager. Security forces 10 Oct killed two suspected Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) militants, who allegedly killed Kashmiri pandit recently in Shopian district. Security forces 26 Oct killed five LeT militants in Kupwara district.
Authorities sought to prevent rallies to support Palestinians. Following outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas (see Israel-Palestine), authorities 13 Oct closed largest mosque in J&K summer capital Srinagar to prevent pro-Palestine protests; citing security concerns, authorities also placed Kashmir’s chief cleric and separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest after releasing him in Sept. Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti 21 Oct led protest in Srinagar against Israel’s offensive in Gaza. The Resistance Front 18 Oct vowed to attack Israeli interests.
In another important development. Govt 5 Oct banned pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom (JKDF) party for five years under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, citing its “anti-India” and “pro-Pakistan” activities; govt statement alleged JKDF was involved in terror activities with intention of creating “reign of terror”.
U.S. accused North Korea of supplying munitions to Russia, raising concern over pair’s military cooperation, while U.S., South Korea and Japan held first ever trilateral aerial military drills.
U.S. unveiled evidence pointing to North Korean weapons supplies to Russia. After North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Russia’s Far East in Sept to meet Russian President Putin, fuelling speculation that Pyongyang was planning to supply munitions to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, U.S. intelligence 13 Oct revealed it had observed between 300 and 1,000 shipping containers travelling by boat from North Korean port Rajin to Russian military port Dunay before containers were transported to ammunition depot closer to Russia-Ukraine border. After visiting North Korea for talks with Kim Jong Un, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 20 Oct denied U.S. allegations, saying he “does not comment on rumours”. North Korean ambassador to Russia next day criticised U.S. deliveries of ATACMS ground-to-ground missiles to Ukraine. Concerns mounted regarding how Russia may compensate Pyongyang, as Kim Jong Un is likely seeking modern fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and assistance with satellite launch technologies banned under UN Security Council resolutions; military cooperation is likely to deepen Western antipathy toward dialogue and further sour relations on peninsula.
U.S., Japan and South Korea conducted military exercises. In their first ever trilateral aerial exercises, U.S., Japan and South Korea 22 Oct staged drill that involved U.S. strategic bombers and fighter aircraft from Japan and South Korea; exercises followed historic Aug summit between three allies where they agreed to deepen defence cooperation. U.S. and South Korea 25-27 Oct staged exercise to counter “Hamas-style” artillery attack on Seoul from North (see Israel-Palestine).
No diplomacy after release of U.S. private. After North Korea late Sept expelled U.S. military deserter Travis King, who returned to U.S. to face range of charges, U.S. State Dept 20 Oct said King’s release “will not lead” to any diplomatic engagement with North Korea.
Ethnic armed group in Shan state launched one of largest offensives in years, which may provoke further clashes with regime in coming weeks; explosion near internally displaced camp in Kachin state killed dozens.
Ethnic armed group launched large-scale offensive in north. In Shan state (north), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) – ethnic Kokang armed group – and allies 27 Oct launched seemingly one of its most significant offensives in several years: forces made series of pre-dawn raids on twelve towns across north of state, including Chin Shwe Haw town on Chinese border, in bid to take over Kokang Self-Administered Zone, which it controlled until 2009 when military offensive ousted it and installed rival Kokang faction. Military responded with airstrikes across northern Shan State, with hostilities likely to escalate in coming weeks.
Blast at IDP camp killed dozens amid hostilities in several areas. Huge explosion close to Munglai Hkyet IDP camp in Kachin state (north) 9 Oct killed 29 people and left more than 50 injured; Kachin Independence Army blamed “high-tech” drone strike, but military denied responsibility. Rights group Amnesty International 13 Oct said damage “is consistent with the largest aerial-delivered bombs” possessed by military, while International Institute for Strategic Studies 23 Oct said blast likely caused by regime artillery strike on stored ammonium nitrate or munitions. In central Myanmar, fighting continued between military and People’s Defence Forces and other resistance forces; among heaviest clashes were hostilities in Kantbalu Township in northern Sagaing region, forcing as many as 10,000 people to flee. In Kayah state (south east), 60-vehicle military convoy deployed to recapture territory in Mese township reached its destination in nearby Bawlake after weeks of heavy fighting.
Regime celebrated 2015 nationwide ceasefire. Regime 15 Oct held ceremony marking eighth anniversary of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, but only seven of ten signatories attended as three groups have since aligned with anti-coup resistance forces.
Parallel govt addressed allegations of abuses. Amid growing reports of abuses and infighting among resistance forces, National Unity Govt 3 Oct said “they must be conducted fairly and transparently”; days later, video footage emerged purportedly showing resistance forces in Sagaing region carrying out extrajudicial killings late Sept.
Former PMs Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif sought to overturn disqualifications ahead of elections, sectarian clashes roiled Khyber Paktunkhwa, and govt sought forced returns of Afghan refugees.
Political parties intensified jockeying ahead of elections. Parties prepared for Jan 2024 elections, set to be one of most contested polls in Pakistan’s history; participation of two of main contenders – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif – depends on series of cases before courts. Khan, who is serving three-year prison sentence, 5 Oct approached Islamabad High Court to overturn his conviction in “Toshakhana” case for false statements and incorrect declarations on gifts received during his premiership, which disqualified him from contested elections; Islamabad High Court 27 Oct rejected Khan’s 11 Oct appeal against special court’s indictment in cipher case, relating to alleged unauthorised disclosure and illegal retention of diplomatic cable, as well as his bail plea. Caretaker provincial govts, particularly in Khan strongholds of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, placed curbs on PTI from holding public rallies. Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif 21 Oct returned to Pakistan after four-year exile in London in hope of becoming party’s candidate should he overcome legal hurdles, which include appeals against his corruption convictions in 2018. Islamabad High Court, which had given Nawaz protective bail, 26 Oct restored pending appeals.
Sectarian violence erupted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Shia-Sunni clashes 24-29 Oct involving heavy weaponry roiled Khyber Pakthunkhwa’s Kurram district, killing at least twenty, before trial elders reportedly struck ceasefire. Meanwhile, amid counter-insurgency operations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, clashes 8-9 Oct killed two soldiers in Zhob district, 16 Oct killed two soldiers in North and South Waziristan district and 18-19 Oct killed three soldiers in two districts.
Govt announced plan to forcibly deport “illegal immigrants”. Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti 3 Oct set 1 Nov deadline for all illegal immigrants to leave Pakistan or face forcible deportation, with clear signals policy was aimed at Afghans. As thousands headed to Afghan border, Amnesty International 31 Oct warned 1.4m Afghan refugees at risk of “being uprooted” ahead of harsh winter months, putting women and girls in particular “in grave danger”.
South witnessed ongoing political and criminal violence, while security forces battled Communist insurgents.
Insecurity persisted in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. In Maguindanao del Sur, two unidentified motorcycle-borne gunmen 10 Oct ambushed and killed Saudi national. Police 12 Oct foiled attempt by suspected illegal gun dealer to transport eight M16 assault rifles from Datu Piang, Maguindanao del Sur, to Sultan Kudarat province. Incidents related to village elections also surfaced: notably, authorities 13 Oct arrested mayor of Datu Salibo town in Maguindanao del Sur, Solaiman Sandigan, with four others over their alleged links to killing of two barangay officials. Military 17 Oct clashed with suspected Daulah Islamiyah armed group in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao del Sur, injuring two soldiers and four militants.
Hostilities persisted between security forces and Communist militants. Fighting between govt security forces and Communist rebels of New People’s Army (NPA), in Luzon Island (Abra province) in north, Mindanao Island (Sultan Kudarat province) in south, and Visayas Islands (negros and Panay islands) in centre, killed at least eight combatants and civilians.
Maritime collision between Philippine and Chinese vessels in South China Sea (SCS) further fuelled tensions, as U.S. spotlighted China’s “risky” military encounters.
Philippines slammed China for dangerous maritime collision near disputed shoal. Philippines 4 Oct announced it had successfully shipped fresh supplies to personnel stationed at BRP Sierra Madre at Second Thomas Shoal, despite “significant number” of Chinese coast guard and maritime militia vessels seeking to “block, harass and interfere” with resupply mission. China’s coast guard 10 Oct claimed it drove away Philippine navy ship near contested Scarborough Shoal; Manila acknowledged its ship was conducting maritime patrol and engaged in brief encounter but rejected assertion it was chased away. Philippines 16 Oct slammed China for “dangerous and offensive manoeuvres” after Chinese vessel shadowed Philippine ship southwest of Thitu Island – Manila’s largest outpost in SCS – and came within 320m of ship. In sign of further heightening of tensions, Philippines 22 Oct accused China’s coast guard of “dangerous blocking manoeuvres” that caused it to collide with Philippine resupply boat about 25km from Second Thomas Shoal, while another Chinese maritime militia vessel “bumped” Philippine Coast Guard vessel; U.S. condemned Beijing’s actions and reiterated its defence treaty obligations extend to “armed attacks” on Philippine Coast Guard “anywhere in the South China Sea”. President Biden 25 Oct said U.S. defence commitment to Philippines is “ironclad”; China responded that U.S. has “no right to get involved”.
U.S. highlighted trend of increasing Chinese coercive action in air. U.S. Defense Department 17 Oct released collection of declassified images and videos depicting fifteen recent cases of “coercive and risky operational behavior” by China’s military against U.S. aircraft in East and South China Sea regions; U.S. claimed that it has recorded more than 180 such incidents since Autumn 2021. China reciprocated by releasing footage accusing U.S. of “closed-in harassment”. U.S. 24 Oct claimed Chinese fighter jet executed an unsafe intercept of U.S. aircraft.
Govt unlocked International Monetary Fund (IMF) support and introduced, then withdrew, controversial bills aimed at boosting executive powers; ethno-religious tensions simmered in northeast.
IMF and govt agreed next steps in economic reform program. Following three-week delay, govt and IMF 19 Oct reached new agreement to complete first six-month review of four-year Extended Funds Facility bailout program, paving path to further $330mn financial support pending approval of IMF’s Executive Board; deal came after China 11 Oct announced one of its two main creditors had reached tentative deal to restructure $4.2bn worth of debt (over half of what govt owes Beijing).
Govt pursued bills expanding executive power. Govt 3 Oct presented – but later in month quietly withdrew – new draft of Anti-Terrorism Act to parliament, which immediately drew domestic and international criticism for over-broad definition of terrorism and dangerously expansive powers afforded to executive and security agencies. Ten UN Special mandate holders 18 Oct argued that bill “does not go far enough to remedy the defects of […] draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act”. Govt 3 Oct also introduced Online Safety Act to parliament that generated strong criticism for its intent to create “Online Safety Commission”, appointed by and answering to president, with sweeping powers to determine that a statement is “false” and remove online content; more than 40 petitions were registered at Supreme Court challenging bill.
Ethno-religious tensions persisted in eastern province. Monk-provocateur Ampitiye Sumanaratna 15 Oct led small procession of Sinhalese to install Buddhist statue on disputed land in Batticaloa district, at site of long-running dispute over land used by Tamil dairy farmers now taken over by Sinhalese farmers. Police, on orders of president, 19 Oct removed Buddhist statue. Sumanaratna 25 Oct was filmed threatening to kill Tamils.
In other important developments. Wickremesinghe 21 Oct announced intention to hold presidential election in 2024, followed by parliamentary elections due by mid-2025; 16 Oct appointed controversial commission to advise on changes to electoral law. Wickremesinghe 3 Oct angrily rejected possibility of international commission to investigate 2019 Easter bombings after UK’s Channel 4 in Sept broadcast allegations that military intelligence facilitated attack and obstructed investigations.
China maintained military activity around Taiwan, while Taiwan President Tsai struck conciliatory tone as she entered final months of presidency.
Chinese jets and navy vessels continued operations around island. As of 29 Oct, Taiwan spotted 299 Chinese military aircraft around Taiwan, of which at least 100 either crossed unofficial “median line” or were detected in Taiwan’s de facto air defence identification zone; 23 aircraft 26 Oct crossed median line while China aircraft carrier Shandong sailed through Bashi Channel into Western Pacific. Taiwan reported 152 sightings of Chinese navy vessels in surrounding waters. U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon 12 Oct transited Taiwan Strait in international airspace.
Tsai urged “peaceful coexistence”, Beijing reiterated preconditions for talks. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen 10 Oct urged “peaceful coexistence” with island and called on Beijing to develop a “mutually acceptable foundation” for interactions; she stressed that her administration had maintained cross-strait status quo since 2016, which was critical to ensuring peace. In response, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that acceptance of the “1992 consensus” is precondition for both sides to engage in political dialogue. After opposition party Kuomintang (KMT)’s vice chairman Andrew Hsia late Sept said that KMT should not be labelled as “pro-China party” nor “unification party”, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office 11 Oct responded that remarks “undermine mutual trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait”.
In other important developments. Speaking in New York city during his U.S. visit, former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou 16 Oct said that U.S. should play role of peacemaker and broker talks between Taiwan and China; in response, Taiwan’s FM Joseph Wu slammed comments as having undermined Taiwan’s diplomacy. Former Australian PM Scott Morrison 11-12 Oct visited Taiwan to participate in govt-sponsored Yushan forum, in which he expressed his personal support for Taiwan to participate in international organisations, including “Quad” grouping of U.S., India, Japan and Australia, and called for “modernisation” of Australia’s “one China” policy.
Authorities convicted several individuals on lèse-majesté charges and condemned killing of Thai nationals in Israel, while violence persisted in deep south.
Courts handed down spate of convictions for lèse-majesté. Notably, Provincial court in Phitsanuloke 4 Oct convicted graduate student of lèse-majesté for Facebook posts, deferred sentencing for two years. Chiang Mai Provincial Court found activist Wanwalee Thammasattaya guilty of lèse-majesté, sentenced to two years and eight months in prison. Ratchapisek Criminal Court 11 Oct convicted man of lèse-majesté for post criticising COVID-19 vaccine production by Siam Bioscience company, which is owned by King Maha Vajiralongkorn; court gave suspended sentence of one year and six months. Activist Saharat Sukkhamla 19 Oct convicted of lèse-majesté for speech at protest Nov 2020, sentenced to two years and granted bail. Meanwhile, parliament 25 Oct voted to reject motion proposed by Move Forward Party to hold referendum on election of Constitution Drafting Assembly.
Govt condemned killing of Thai nationals in Israel. Following outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas (see Israel-Palestine), PM Srettha Thavisin 8 Oct condemned Hamas attack, which killed 29 Thai workers and saw at least eighteen taken hostage; some 30,000 Thai nationals work in Israel.
Insurgents continued attacks across deep south. Militants 30 Sept-1 Oct attacked security outposts in eleven locations across Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala provinces, causing no casualties. In Yala province, IED 3 Oct wounded two workmen in Yaha district. In Pattani province, two motorcycle-borne gunmen 5 Oct threw IED at security post in Nongchik district, lightly injuring two soldiers. Motorcycle-borne gunmen 6 Oct shot and killed chief of Don Sai subdistrict in Mai Kaen district. In Narathiwat, militants 21 Oct staged coordinated attacks in Tak Bai district, including three separate bombings and assault on checkpoint that wounded four police officers. Deputy PM Somsak Thepsutin 12 Oct announced govt would extend emergency decree for three months from 20 Oct but lifted decree in three districts – Krong Pinang in Yala, Thung Yang Daeng in Pattani and Yi-ngo in Narathiwat.
PM Pashinyan expressed hope for peace deal with Azerbaijan in coming months amid flurry of international diplomacy; Yerevan ratified Rome Statute.
Various international actors stepped up efforts for peace deal with Azerbaijan. Following Azerbaijan’s one-day military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh (see Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan)), EU prepared for 5 Oct talks between PM Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Granada, Spain, moderated by French, German and EU leaders; Baku day before announced Aliyev would not attend, citing French bias toward Armenia and France’s refusal to include Türkiye in discussions. Meeting in Belgian capital Brussels slated for late Oct postponed. FMs from Iran, Türkiye and Russia 23 Oct met Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts in Iran. Participants reiterated respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and “non-interference in internal affairs” after Iranian and Russian FMs criticised Western intervention in region. Speaking from Georgian capital Tbilisi, with Azerbaijani and Georgian PMs in attendance, Pashinyan 26 Oct announced sides were working on deal that could be signed “in coming months”.
Fears of new war between Armenia and Azerbaijan persisted. Baku’s successful military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh raised fears of another offensive, this time into Armenia’s Syunik region, to establish transport corridor linking Azerbaijan with its exclave, Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan’s chief negotiator Elchin Amirbayov 16 Oct sought to assuage fears and emphasised that Baku’s primary concern was safety of Azerbaijani passengers travelling through corridor. Azerbaijan 23 Oct began military drills with Türkiye, including near border with Armenia and in Nakhchivan. France same day announced sale of weapons to Armenia as Pashinyan signalled plans to reduce reliance on Russia for security. Meanwhile, escalation 3 Oct in Vardenis town bordering Azerbaijan’s Kelbajar district left one Armenian soldier dead and two wounded; sides traded blame for incident.
In other important developments. Yerevan 26 Oct adopted decree granting refugee status to over 100,000 people who fled Nagorno-Karabakh. Parliament 3 Oct ratified founding treaty of International Criminal Court, known as Rome Statute.
President Aliyev visited Nagorno-Karabakh following military offensive in September, Baku unveiled reintegration plan for ethnic Armenians, and speculation mounted about future of Russian peacekeepers.
Azerbaijani leader raised national flag in empty towns across Nagorno-Karabakh. Following Azerbaijan’s one-day military offensive in Sept that ended Nagorno-Karabakh’s (NK) de facto self-governance, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev 15 Oct visited enclave. He raised Azerbaijani flags in various abandoned towns and delivered speech from main city of Stepanakert, known as Khankendi to Azerbaijanis, proclaiming nation had “fulfilled the decades-long wish of the Azerbaijani people” and announcing appointment of Maj Gen Sardar Safarov as new commandant.
Baku’s integration plans for ethnic Armenians rang hollow amid mass exodus. Baku 2 Oct unveiled plan for integrating NK’s ethnic Armenian population into Azerbaijan, promising to ensure equal rights regardless of ethnicity, religion or language; document also outlined plans for governance, security, taxation and cultural rights, and vowed to protect Armenian cultural and religious sites. Almost all residents had fled enclave by early Oct, however, leaving virtually no one left for Azerbaijan to integrate.
Future of Russian peacekeepers remained uncertain. Mass exodus from NK triggered speculation about future of Russian peacekeepers stationed in enclave. Moscow continued to insist that any decision about their future would be made with Baku and denied any intent to exit prematurely; 11 Oct it clarified that peacekeepers’ activities “will be adapted” given that “conditions under which the Russian peacekeeping contingent was deployed to the region have changed”. Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan previous day dismissed possibility of Russian redeployment to Armenia amid mounting concern in Yerevan.
Armenia condemned arrest of former NK officials. Armenia 4 Oct condemned Azerbaijan’s late Sept arrests of several former NK leaders; Azerbaijan same day justified actions, saying detainees were accused of serious abuses, including war crimes. Military court in Baku 17 Oct began trial of NK resident Vagif Khachatryan, arrested late July for alleged war crimes.
Armenia’s leader expressed hope for peace deal with Azerbaijan in coming months amid flurry of international diplomacy.
Various international actors stepped up efforts for peace deal with Armenia. Following Azerbaijan’s one-day military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh (see Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan)), EU prepared for 5 Oct talks between President Aliyev and Armenian PM Pashinyan in Granada, Spain, moderated by French, German and EU leaders; Baku day before announced Aliyev would not attend, citing French bias toward Armenia and France’s refusal to include Türkiye in discussions. Meeting in Belgian capital Brussels slated for late Oct postponed. FMs from Iran, Türkiye and Russia 23 Oct met Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts in Iran. Participants reiterated respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and “non-interference in internal affairs” after Iranian and Russian FMs criticised Western intervention in region. Speaking from Georgian capital Tbilisi, with Azerbaijani and Georgian PMs in attendance, Pashinyan 26 Oct announced sides were working on deal that could be signed “in coming months”.
Fears of new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia persisted. Baku’s successful military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh raised fears of another offensive, this time into Armenia’s Syunik region, to establish transport corridor linking mainland with its exclave, Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan’s chief negotiator Elchin Amirbayov 16 Oct sought to assuage fears and emphasised that Baku’s primary concern was safety of Azerbaijani passengers travelling through corridor. Azerbaijan 23 Oct began military drills with Türkiye, including near border with Armenia and in Nakhchivan. France same day announced sale of weapons to Armenia (see Armenia). Meanwhile, escalation 3 Oct in Armenia’s Vardenis town bordering Kelbajar district left one Armenian soldier dead and two wounded; sides traded blame for incident.
Clampdown on dissent persisted, Lukashenko applauded Poland for voting out ruling party, and Minsk sought to deepen ties with friendly states.
Repression of opposition continued. Rechytsa district court 9 Oct sentenced opposition activist Polina Sharendo-Panasyuk to additional year behind bars for disobeying prison authorities during two-year imprisonment. Barysau district court 19 Oct handed one-year sentence to another opposition figure, Zmitser Dashkevich, on same charge. EU 25 Oct expressed alarm at “ever-growing instrumentalisation of the national legislation to shrink Belarus’ civic space and silence any critical voices”.
Lukashenko praised Poles for voting out ruling party amid strained ties. Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak 3 Oct announced further troop deployment to Belarus border to repel migrants that he claimed were “sent by [President] Alexander Lukashenko’s regime…to destabilise our country”. Lukashenko 6 Oct proclaimed hope for “reset” of relations if opposition wins 15 Oct Polish elections, 27 Oct congratulated Poland for voting out ruling Law and Justice Party.
Minsk engaged in flurry of diplomatic activity. Minsk hosted number of foreign representatives throughout month. Notably, top legislator Vladimir Andreichenko 16 Oct received Venezuelan FM to discuss collaboration against Western “blackmail, coercion and sanctions”. Lukashenko 17 Oct met with Iranian VP Mohamad Mokhber, 26 Oct met with Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto. Meanwhile, Lukashenko 29 Oct warned that Ukraine and Russia are locked in stalemate and called for talks to end fighting.
U.S. sanctioned Bosnian Serb leader’s family and patronage network.
U.S. 20 Oct imposed sanctions on two children of Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik and four companies under their management. Washington accused them of facilitating Dodik’s “ongoing corruption” in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) Republika Srpska (RS) entity, enabling him “to siphon public funds from the RS and enrich himself and his family at the expense of BiH citizens and functional governance in the country”.
Tensions continued to diminish following agreement on disputed road constructed by de facto Turkish Cypriot authorities and intensified diplomatic efforts to appoint UN envoy.
UN brokered deal between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. UN Mission in Cyprus 9 Oct announced “understanding” between sides on road construction by Turkish Cypriots to connect Pile/Pyla village (located in UN buffer zone) to “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”), which had contributed to upsurge in tensions in Aug that led to violent skirmishes in buffer zone; deal granted Turkish Cypriots permission to continue building road, while both sides confirmed inviolability of Green Line demarcating boundary between sides. Republic of Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides 17 Oct said agreement was “important” in restoring status quo in buffer zone, while “TRNC” de facto foreign ministry 18 Oct accused Republic of Cyprus of trying to portray agreement as “own victory” and as step to expand UN Security Council “authority and dominance”; Türkiye 9 Oct welcomed agreement, saying it exemplified “TRNC’s” “constructive attitude”. De facto Turkish Cypriot authorities 23 Oct resumed construction of road as per agreement.
Signs emerged of possible progress toward appointment of UN envoy. After “TRNC” last month refused further talks on UN envoy’s appointment, saying it would not compromise its sovereignty, Republic of Cyprus 16 Oct said it had not reached final decision on appointment, amid reports circulating about potential candidates for role; position has been vacant since 2017 and filling it could symbolise step toward return to formal talks. After meeting with UN Sec Gen António Guterres during Cairo Peace Summit, Republic of Cyprus President Christodoulides 22 Oct said he was more optimistic about prospects of resuming formal talks on Cyprus question; govt next day said appointment of UN Envoy to Cyprus as soon as possible would be important development for resumption of negotiations with Turkish Cypriots. Christodoulides 26 Oct said govt had given its consent for UN envoy appointment; Ankara and “TRNC” had not yet announced their consent.
Ruling party did not secure enough votes to impeach President Zourabichvili; de facto leadership in breakaway Abkhazia announced Russian plans for naval base in region.
Ruling Georgian Dream party’s attempt to impeach president failed. Constitutional Court 16 Oct ruled in favour of Georgian Dream’s claim that President Zourabichvili violated constitution when she travelled to EU countries late Aug-early Sept, though three of nine judges dissented decision. Georgian Dream 18 Oct initiated impeachment hearings in parliament, but was unable to secure 100 votes needed to remove her from office. Impeachment attempt triggered criticism from European countries, notably France, and threatens Georgia’s prospects for candidate status.
Russian plans to build naval base in breakaway Abkhazia drew condemnation. Following 4 Oct meeting between leaders of Russia and breakaway Abkhazia, region’s de facto president Aslan Bzhania 5 Oct said Moscow is planning to construct naval base in Ochamchira town along Black Sea coast; announcement came after satellite images 1 Oct showed Moscow had withdrawn bulk of its Black Sea Fleet from Russian-annexed Crimea to safeguard it from Ukrainian attacks (see Ukraine). Tbilisi 5 Oct said move would constitute “flagrant violation of Georgia’s sovereignty”, which number of Western countries echoed; several civil society activists in Abkhazia warned region risks becoming entangled in Ukraine conflict.
NATO reinforced peacekeeping force following deadly clashes in northern Kosovo; Serbia and Kosovo leaders met in Brussels amid intense international pressure.
Tensions ran high in northern Kosovo as NATO bolstered troop presence. NATO reinforced its peacekeeping mission in Kosovo following deadly attack on Kosovar police officers in northern Kosovo late Sept. Notably, UK 1 Oct announced deployment of around 200 soldiers, Romania 3 Oct promised some 100 troops and Germany 6 Oct pledged 155 troops. Meanwhile, U.S. 2 Oct welcomed Serbia’s announcement to withdraw some troops from border but emphasised continued concern about “cycle of rising tensions and sporadic violence in northern Kosovo”.
EU and U.S. urged Pristina and Belgrade to resume dialogue. Leaders from EU and Western Balkans nations 16 Oct held ninth Berlin Process summit in Albanian capital Tirana, aimed at boosting cooperation and reconciliation to advance EU integration. During summit, European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Pristina and Belgrade to return to EU-mediated dialogue on normalisation. Serb President Aleksandar Vučić did not attend, instead travelling to China for Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. PM Kurti and Vučić 26 Oct met on margins of European Council in Belgian capital Brussels, but were unable to reach agreement; France, Italy and Germany 27 Oct called on Kosovo to launch procedure to create Association of Serb-majority Municipalities and on Serbia to “deliver on de facto recognition” of Kosovo.
Parliament passed “foreign representatives” draft law in first reading amid human rights concerns; Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan made progress on border demarcation.
Parliament passed contentious “foreign representatives” draft law in first reading. Parliament 17 Oct held first reading of “foreign representatives” draft law amid rising concerns. Notably, UN Special Rapporteurs 13 Oct warned about wide powers draft law grants, such as unscheduled inspections of NGOs, which “could be used against organizations that voice criticism or dissent against the Government”; High Commissioner for Human Rights 13 Oct said bill “would risk violating fundamental rights to freedom of expression and association”; and NGO Human Rights Watch 16 Oct cautioned it “would have a chilling effect on Kyrgyzstan’s vibrant civil society”. Despite warnings, parliament 25 Oct passed draft law in first reading, with just seven voting against legislation and 52 voting in favour.
Bishkek hosted CIS summit with Putin in attendance. Russian President Vladimir Putin 12-13 Oct visited Kyrgyzstan in first trip abroad since International Criminal Court issued his arrest warrant in March 2023 for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. Other leaders of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) – regional intergovernmental organisation comprising former Soviet republics – 13 Oct arrived in capital Bishkek for annual summit, aside from Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan. According to Russian state news agency, Putin pledged to continue strengthening CIS’ “contacts with friendly states and international organisations”, and claimed Russia’s economic ties with CIS partners were expanding despite Western sanctions.
Bishkek and Dushanbe made progress on border delimitation and demarcation. Heads of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s security services 2 Oct reportedly signed protocol in Batken city on demarcation and delimitation of disputed border areas; neither side published details of protocol, but Chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s Committee for National Security Kamchybek Tashiev said it “provides a basis for resolving all border issues”. Kyrgyz and Tajik leaders 13 Oct met for further discussions on sidelines of CIS summit.
Chişinău labelled Russia “security threat” for first time.
President Sandu 11 Oct announced that Moldova’s new national security strategy refers to Russia as threat to its security for first time ever; document, which still needs parliamentary approval, said “Russian Federation and its proxies in the Republic of Moldova represent the most dangerous and persistent source of threat which, if not countered, can have severe effects on the statehood, democracy and prosperity of the country”. Meanwhile, authorities 30 Oct announced access to TASS website and other prominent Russian media outlets would be blocked amid upcoming local elections in Nov. Actions came amid growing concern about Russian destabilisation efforts in Moldova.
Antisemitic attacks left dozens injured in North Caucasus, Moscow moved to withdraw from nuclear test ban treaty, and Ukrainian strikes continued.
Antisemitic violence erupted in North Caucasus. Amid worrying escalation in Israel-Palestine (see Israel/Palestine), several hundred residents 28 Oct demonstrated outside hotel in Dagestan Republic’s Khasavyurt city following rumours Israeli refugees were staying there; crowd dispersed but notice appeared at hotel saying “entrance is strictly prohibited for foreign citizens of Israel (Jews)”. Hundreds 29 Oct stormed airport in Dagestan’s Makhachkala city to search for Jewish passengers arriving from Israeli city Tel Aviv, clashing with security forces and leaving over twenty injured; authorities arrested 60 people. In Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, unknown assailants 29 Oct set fire to Jewish cultural centre in capital Nalchik and wrote “death to Jews” on wall. President Putin 30 Oct blamed West and Ukraine for helping stoke unrest.
Moscow moved to reverse nuclear test ban ratification and unveiled new missiles. Putin 5 Oct raised possibility of withdrawing ratification of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, citing U.S. failure to ratify. Russia’s envoy to Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Mikhail Ulyanov next day confirmed plans, saying it “doesn’t mean the intention to resume nuclear tests”. State Duma and Federation Council 18, 25 Oct respectively approved bill to withdraw ratification. Meanwhile, Putin 5 Oct announced “successful” test of Burevestnik cruise missile and completion of Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missile.
Ukrainian strikes into Russia persisted. Russia faced more Ukrainian attacks, particularly targeting border regions. Notably, military 4 Oct shot down 31 unmanned aerial vehicles in Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk regions. Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov 12 Oct reported fallen drone killed three civilians in Belgorod city. Ministry of Defence 18 Oct announced air defences had shot down 28 drones over Belgorod, Kursk and Black Sea; Ukrainian media outlets same day claimed at least eighteen drones struck military camp near Khalino airfield in Kursk.
Authorities arrested Alexei Navalny’s lawyers. Crackdown on dissent continued. Notably, authorities 13 Oct detained three lawyers representing imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny on charges of participation in “extremist community”; 26 Oct charged Russian-American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva for violating “foreign agents” law.
Bishkek and Dushanbe made progress on border delimitation and demarcation.
Heads of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan’s security services 2 Oct reportedly signed protocol in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken city on demarcation and delimitation of disputed border areas; neither side published details of protocol, but Chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s Committee for National Security Kamchybek Tashiev said it “provides a basis for resolving all border issues”. Tajik and Kyrgyz leaders 13 Oct met for further discussions on sidelines of Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Kyrgyzstan (see Kyrgyzstan).
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) carried out first attack in capital Ankara since 2016, prompting retaliatory Turkish strikes in Syria and Iraq; govt engaged regional actors amid Hamas-Israel war.
Military increased strikes on PKK-linked militants after Ankara bombing. After PKK militants 1 Oct conducted suicide bombing in front of interior ministry in Ankara and opened fire on guards, injuring two, govt same day began intensification of retaliatory airstrikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq and People’s Protection Units (YPG) targets in northern Syria (see Iraq and Syria). FM Hakan Fidan 4 Oct declared all PKK and YPG infrastructure are now “legitimate targets”, as subsequent Turkish airstrikes targeted facilities and infrastructure belonging to YPG as well as its members, exacerbating poor humanitarian conditions in Syria. Air campaign in northern Syria triggered tensions between Ankara and Washington after U.S. fighter jet 5 Oct shot down Turkish armed drone; President Erdoğan 10 Oct reacted harshly, accusing U.S. of “training and arming all terrorist groups”.
Govt pursued diplomacy amid Hamas-Israel war. Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), govt 10 Oct offered to mediate dispute. Fidan 17 Oct confirmed engagement with Hamas’s political wing for hostage release and held diplomatic talks on war with Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Following 17 Oct Al-Ahli hospital blast in Gaza, Ankara hardened stance: President Erdoğan 25 Oct said they will not tolerate Israel acting like “terrorist organisation”, while Fidan warned of “all-out massacre” amid Israel’s ground offensive. Ankara 30 Oct condemned “in the strongest terms Israel’s attack on the Gaza Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital”.
Bilateral ties with Greece remained on track to improve. Deputy FM Burak Akcapar 16-17 Oct met Greek counterpart Konstantinos Fragogiannis in Greek capital Athens for talks, which included discussions on providing “concrete outcomes” for fifth High-Level Cooperation Council to be headed by Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Erdoğan on 7 Dec. Greece and govt 23 Oct agreed to cooperate against migrant trafficking.
Operations against Islamic State (ISIS) continued. Security forces in Oct detained at least 160 individuals with alleged links to ISIS during Oct.
Russia launched new offensive in east and ramped up strikes on civilian targets, while Kyiv targeted Russian-held territory with new U.S. ATACM missiles.
Russia launched offensive in east and intensified attacks on civilian targets. Russian forces 10 Oct launched offensive in east, coalescing around Avdiivka city (Donetsk region); fierce fighting ensued but Russia struggled to breach heavily fortified Ukrainian positions and incurred significant losses. Ukraine 14 Oct reported heavy Russian attacks on well-fortified positions around cities of Lyman (Donetsk) and Kupiansk (Kharkiv), 31 Oct warned Russia had bolstered its forces around Bakhmut (Donetsk). Meanwhile, aid agency International Rescue Committee 6 Oct warned of stepped-up Russian strikes on civilians and civilian infrastructure. Notably, Russian missile 5 Oct killed over 50 people in Groza village (Kharkiv); drones 12 Oct hit Danube port infrastructure; and President Zelenskyy 25 Oct warned of intensifying strikes on energy infrastructure.
Kyiv struck Russian-occupied territory with U.S. surface-to-surface missiles. Arrival of U.S. ATACM missiles bolstered Ukraine’s ability to strike deep into Russian-held territory, with Kyiv 17 Oct striking airfields in occupied Zaporizhzhia and Luhansk regions that destroyed equipment and likely killed scores of Russian soldiers. In southern Kherson region, Ukrainian forces stepped up operations across Dnipro River, forcing Russia to divert troops from main prong of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in Zaporizhzhia. Meanwhile, satellite images 1 Oct showed Moscow had largely withdrawn its Black Sea fleet from Russian-annexed Crimea base after series of Ukrainian strikes in Sept.
Israel-Gaza war raised concerns about Western backing. Amid dramatic escalation in Israel-Palestine (see Israel/Palestine), concerns rose in Kyiv about implications for Western support to Ukraine. Western leaders promised continued assistance, with U.S. President Joe Biden 19 Oct announcing plans to combine aid for Israel and Ukraine in single legislative package. Malta 28-29 Oct hosted Ukraine peace talks with representatives from over 60 countries, but not Russia. Meanwhile, Slovakia’s newly elected PM Robert Fico 26 Oct announced halt to military aid.
In other important developments. According to Razumkov Center survey published 11 Oct, 64 percent of respondents are against holding elections before war’s end. New Defence Minister Rustem Umerov 18 Oct unveiled Defence Ministry reforms.
President Mirziyoyev held talks with China’s Xi Jinping.
President Mirziyoyev 17 Oct held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Chinese capital Beijing; sides vowed to continue bolstering ties, with notable focus on economic cooperation. Meanwhile, Mirziyoyev 13 Oct attended Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Kyrgyzstan – regional intergovernmental organisation comprising former Soviet republics (see Kyrgyzstan).
Govt struck ceasefire agreement with FARC dissidents, marking further progress for President Petro’s “total peace” policy; armed and criminal violence persisted.
Govt secured ceasefire with FARC dissident faction. Petro administration 16 Oct agreed to three-month bilateral ceasefire with dissident Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) faction known as FARC-EP Estado Mayor Central (FARC-EMC), marking significant political win for govt. Agreement, which went into effect 17 Oct, included specific protocols protecting civilians and ensuring free conduct of local elections on 29 Oct; FARC-EMC had previously said it would not allow unfriendly candidates to run in its territory. While deal is national, sides agreed to define regions where FARC-EMC is present and concentrate implementation and monitoring there. Agreement also officially opened talks between govt and dissidents; negotiations aim to reach partial deals that can be implemented as political talks continue; sides agreed, for example, to undertake “transformation” projects aimed at improving conditions in priority areas, starting with Caño de Micay, Cauca department (south west), where some 1,800 civilians were recently displaced in confrontations between FARC-EMC and military. Meanwhile, govt-ELN negotiating table as of 10 Oct will function permanently in capital Bogotá to maintain progress on implementing agreements on participation, bilateral ceasefire and humanitarian relief.
Violence persisted in several regions. Despite diplomatic advances, clashes between armed and criminal groups continued. Notably, Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces clashed with ELN in attempt to dislodge guerrillas from gold mining areas in eastern Antioquia and southern Bolívar (north). FARC-EMC fought separate dissident faction Segunda Marquetalia in Telembí triangle area in Nariño department (Pacific Coast), displacing almost 500, according to early Oct UN report. Comandos de la Frontera criminal group 6-8 Oct held armed strike in Caquetá and Putumayo departments (south).
Governing party suffered setback at ballot box. Local elections 29 Oct dealt blow to Petro govt, with opposition candidates winning number of key seats, including in major cities and governorships. Authorities reported several incidents of vandalism and clashes between voters at polling centres, while eight candidates were murdered in months leading up to polls.
In another important development. Petro 31 Oct recalled ambassador to Israel over “massacre of the Palestinian people”.
Santo Domingo partially reopened border with Haiti, though tensions persisted.
Tensions with Haiti ran high after govt 15 Sept shut shared border, citing construction of canal by farmers on Haitian side of Massacre river (see Haiti). Santo Domingo 5 Oct said it was ready to restart decommissioned canal to collect water from Massacre River before it enters Haiti; Port-au-Prince 9 Oct denounced attempts to divert water as “unacceptable and hostile” and called for dialogue. Govt 11 Oct partially reopened border, including key Dajabón border crossing, to allow trade of essential products, but maintained ban on entry of Haitians. Haiti 12 Oct declined to follow Santo Domingo’s lead and reopen Dajabón, though it did open border gates at Elias Pina and Independencia, allowing some trade to resume. FM Roberto Alvarez same day attended Organisation of American States (OAS) extraordinary session, where he denounced “illegal construction” of Haiti’s canal.
Centre-right businessman Daniel Noboa defeated left-leaning rival in presidential election mired by escalating criminal violence.
Ecuadorians elected new president in run-off overshadowed by security crisis. Centre-right businessman and son of former presidential candidate Daniel Noboa 15 Oct won presidential election, defeating left-leaning rival Luisa González with around 52% of vote. Noboa has promised to “restore peace” by strengthening police force, deploying military to safeguard key infrastructure, beefing up community-based prevention and addressing socioeconomic drivers of violence.
Insecurity persisted at high levels. Violence against public officials continued ahead of election. Notably, armed assailants 5 Oct murdered prosecutor Genaro Oswaldo Reascos Bolaños in Jujan canton (Guayas province); unknown assailants 24 Oct shot and killed councillor from Citizen’s Revolution Movement party in Yaguachi canton, Guayas province; and unidentified assailants 28 Oct attacked former mayor of Duran city, killing his bodyguard. Meanwhile, authorities 6 Oct found six suspects in murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio dead in their prison cells in Litoral Penitentiary, Guayaquil city; police next day found seventh suspect dead in prison near Quito. President Lasso 7 Oct announced investigation into officer in charge of Litoral prison and removed several top security officials. Lasso 8 Oct extended state of emergency by one month.
Concerns about human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, under state of exception persisted.
Govt denied allegations of rights violations under state of exception. Legislative Assembly 12 Oct extended state of exception for 19th time, with VP of assembly claiming that human rights violations committed during measure were isolated incidents. Despite claims, civil society organisations and journalists continued to document cases of arbitrary arrests and torture, and shed light on conditions within prisons. Notably, coalition of human rights organisations 18 Oct estimated inmate population of 1,620 people per 100,000, translating into 148% overcrowding rate. Meanwhile, military 11 Oct sent 3,500 soldiers into Apopa municipality, San Salvador department (centre), amid ongoing efforts to root out gangs.
Women’s groups spotlighted sexual violence at hands of military and police. Following late Sept charges brought against six soldiers involved in rape of minor, military and police came under scrutiny for abuse of power and allegations of rape from within their ranks. Notably, several feminist groups 18 Oct protested in front of army headquarters, accusing military and police of using state of exception to act with impunity; they reported, for example, that one soldier had raped an eight-year-old girl in Bajo Lempa area, Usulutan department (south east).
In other important developments. Govt and opposition 3 Oct began campaigns for Feb 2024 general elections, which President Bukele is expected to win; Bukele 26 Oct officially registered as candidate despite constitutional ban on consecutive presidential re-election.
Violence against protesters opposing electoral interference after Bernardo Arévalo’s surprise victory left one dead.
Protests against judicial interference in electoral transition paralysed country. Amid continued efforts by Attorney General Consuelo Porras and Public Prosecutor’s Office to derail electoral transition, indigenous leaders, civil society and student organisations 2 Oct began protesting, establishing roadblocks throughout country and calling for resignation of Porras and other judicial officials; indigenous leaders called for nationwide strike. Blockages led to food and fuel shortages. Porras 9 Oct urged govt to act against “illegal” demonstrations and to clear roadblocks using force if necessary, while outgoing President Giammattei same day suggested protest leaders were receiving foreign funding. Riot police next day began clearing roadblocks and using tear gas. Interior Minister Napoleón Barrientos 16 Oct resigned after Porras requested his dismissal for not forcefully dispersing protests.
Unrest left one dead. In first casualty since protests began, unidentified gunmen 16 Oct killed one person and wounded two other protestors in Malacatan town, San Marcos department (west); videos on social media same day showed machete-carrying assailants attacking protesters in El Asintal township, Retalhuleu municipality (south west), allegedly in concert with police; Arévalo condemned violence.
International community reiterated its support for Arévalo. Arévalo 4 Oct restarted transition process, next day asked govt and demonstrators to engage in dialogue. Meanwhile, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 2 Oct called for “peaceful political transition”, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan 3 Oct promised to ensure accountability for “those who are trying to suffocate democracy”. Organization of American States head Luis Almagro 10 Oct described election interference as “shameful”. U.S. official 24 Oct said Washington could apply sectoral sanctions to “support democratic process”. U.S. and EU same day issued joint statement, expressing concern about “flagrant attempts to undermine” elections.
UN Security Council approved Kenya-led security mission to Haiti, assassination of gang leader sparked inter-gang fighting, and tensions with Dominican Republic remained elevated.
UN approved Kenyan-led multinational mission. UN Security Council 2 Oct authorised one-year Multinational Security Support mission to Haiti, to be reviewed after nine months; force will support Haitian police, including by planning and conducting joint operations, restoring security and creating conditions for free and fair elections. Kenya, who is leading mission, 7 Oct began selecting officers for mission; first group of 200 police officers 10 Oct started pre-mission training in Kenya. High Court of Kenya 9 Oct temporarily blocked deployment amid opposition pressure, 24 Oct extended ban for two weeks.
Assassination of gang leader triggered new waves of violence. Late Sept killing of gang leader from G9 coalition known as Tyson, allegedly by other members of coalition, sparked clashes in following weeks between gangs from G9 and Gpèp coalitions in capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. Notably, clashes 13-14 Oct erupted in La Saline district between at least three G9 gangs, trapping around 400 children and teachers in school. Members of 400 Mawozo gang operating in Croix-des-Bouquets 4 Oct set fire to Thomazeau police station, third such attack in two weeks. Attackers reportedly from Village-de-Dieu gang 18 Oct kidnapped High Council for Transition Sec Gen Antony Virginy Saint Pierre. Meanwhile, UNICEF 3 Oct warned of intensifying violence in Artibonite department, known as Haiti’s breadbasket; UN envoy 23 Oct warned “major crimes” had reached “record highs”.
Spat with Dominican Republic over canal construction continued. After Dominican Republic mid Sept shut border with Haiti over dispute about construction of canal by farmers on Haitian side of Massacre River, Dominican Republic 11 Oct partially reopened border to some commercial activity (see Dominican Republic).
In other important developments. Former senator 10 Oct pleaded guilty to role in 2021 assassination of President Moïse, while authorities 19 Oct arrested key suspect in Port-au-Prince and U.S. court 27 Oct sentenced retired Colombian army officer to life in prison. UN Security Council 19 Oct renewed sanctions regime on Haiti for one year.
Institutional crisis over Attorney General’s appointment continued, and govt extended state of exception for seventh time.
Congress remained paralysed over selection of new Attorney General. Ruling Libre Party and opposition National Party continued to disagree on candidate for Attorney General, prolonging legislative paralysis. Opposition, who have blocked govt’s choice for new Attorney General in response to amnesty law they claim benefits Libre party, 12 Oct accused Castro administration of using justice system to harass opposition and manipulate selection process; accusation came after anti-corruption unit 11 Oct indicted former presidents Juan Orlando Hernández and Porfirio Lobo (both from National Party) on fraud charges. Crisis hindered progress on creation of UN-led anti-corruption commission.
Stringent security measures remained in place as authorities lauded impact. Govt 6 Oct announced extension of state of exception until 17 Nov, with authorities claiming period Jan-Oct saw 2,306 homicides, down from 2,761 in same period in 2022. Military police commander Ramiro Fernando Muñoz 11 Oct announced that after three months of special measures, prisons (where criminal groups often coordinate their activities) were “no longer a problem”; experts said strategy of splitting gangs into different prisons appeared effective. Concerns about criminality and violence continued, however. Notably, Human Rights Commission report 8 Oct decried high levels of violence and impunity against women and environmental activists, while UN rapporteur on freedom of expression 27 Oct warned that violence and judicial harassment against activists and journalists is “alarmingly high”.
Criminal violence remained rampant, govt and security forces faced more backlash for high number of disappearances, and Hurricane Otis wrought destruction in Acapulco city.
Criminal violence, some of it politically motivated, remained high. Bodies of two pollsters from ruling MORENA party were found dead in Tabasco state 1 Oct, alongside message from Jalisco Cartel accusing MORENA and army of protecting rival Sinaloa Cartel in Chiapas. Guerrero state (south west) witnessed several high-profile attacks. Notably, unidentified gunmen 17 Oct killed prominent self-defence group leader Bruno Plácido and his driver in state capital Chilpancingo; and armed men 18 Oct attacked priest and victims’ rights activist Filiberto Velázquez in Tixtla town. Attacks came after 1,500 members of 66 communities from San Miguel Totolapan and Heliodoro Castillo municipalities 3 Oct announced creation of armed self-defence group amid state inertia. Three separate attacks in Coyuca de Benitez municipality (Guerrero), Tacámbaro town (Michoacán state) and San Miguel Cano (Puebla state) 23 Oct left at least 24 dead, including 13 police officers.
State faced more criticism for high number of disappearances. UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances 3 Oct lamented “alarming” number of disappearances in Mexico and “almost absolute impunity”. Group of experts investigating 2014 disappearance of students from Ayotzinapa teacher’s college 17 Oct released documents allegedly showing military had knowledge of crime as it unfolded; govt continued to deny military’s involvement or collusion. Meanwhile, search collective 2 Oct said clandestine burial site found in Tacámbaro likely contains more than the 51 bodies already found, largest identified in state in recent years; another collective 15 Oct reported discovery of clandestine human incineration site containing human remains in Tlaquepaque city, Jalisco state (centre).
In other important developments. Govt and U.S. officials 5 Oct held high-level security talks in Mexico City about fentanyl trafficking, migration and arms trafficking, and agreed to collaborate closely. Acapulco city (along Pacific Coast) was among areas worst hit by Hurricane Otis late Oct, raising fears that organised crime could capitalise on destruction and insufficient govt response to strengthen foothold in area.
Govt continued to crackdown on opposition and Catholic Church despite sustained international condemnation.
Repression of opposition and Catholic church continued. Following late Sept arrest of Brooklyn Rivera, only indigenous parliament representative, Rivera’s YATAMA party 1 Oct denounced detention and that of fellow politician Nancy Rodriquez. Authorities 3 Oct rescinded YATAMA’s legal status and closed two YATAMA-run radio stations. Govt 12 Oct allocated Rivera’s seat to ruling party politician. Despite Vatican’s late Sept call for diplomatic dialogue, attacks on Catholic church continued. Notably, police and paramilitary groups 1-9 Oct detained six Catholic priests. Govt 18 Oct freed six priests and exiled them to Rome following deal with Vatican. Authorities 24 Oct cancelled legal status of local chapter of Franciscan order and 16 NGOs, many of whom have ties to Catholic Church.
International community kept up pressure on Managua. EU Council 9 Oct extended measures including asset freeze and travel bans on 21 individuals and three entities until Oct 2024. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 10 Oct briefed Organization of American States (OAS) permanent council about situation in country, saying govt’s actions part of repressive strategy to consolidate power and silence critics. OAS next day condemned situation and called on govt to respect and protect human rights.
In another important development. Nicaraguan Central Bank 17 Oct announced reduction in imports and exports in first eight months of 2023 compared to same period in 2022.
In crucial step toward competitive presidential poll, govt and opposition reached deal to improve electoral conditions, leading to substantial U.S. sanctions relief.
Govt and opposition struck deal to improve electoral conditions. Maduro govt and group of opposition parties known as Unitary Platform reached agreement in Barbados on minimum conditions for 2024 presidential poll. Notably, agreement fixes vote for unspecified date in second half of 2024, includes update of electoral registry and commits govt-controlled National Electoral Council (CNE) to invite international ‘technical’ observation missions including from EU, UN and AU. Text says parties will promote “authorisation” of all candidates and political parties as long as they “meet requirements to participate in the presidential elections”; govt’s chief negotiator Jorge Rodríguez immediately interpreted clause as stating banned candidates cannot run, which would rule out opposition candidate (see below).
Washington provided ample sanctions relief. Welcoming agreement, U.S. 18 Oct issued broad authorisation of transactions involving Venezuela’s oil, gas and gold sectors, and removed ban on secondary trading of certain Venezuelan sovereign bonds, as well as debt and equity issued by state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela oil company. License lifting sanctions on oil and gas sector issued for six months, with Washington promising to renew it if Caracas complies with electoral agreement and releases U.S. and Venezuelan prisoners. Govt same day released five political prisoners.
María Corina Machado won opposition primary, govt later suspended results. Opposition 22 Oct held primary to select candidate for presidential election. Hardline politician María Corina Machado, currently banned from running for office, won overwhelmingly with 93% of vote after several prominent candidates pulled out of race in weeks before. Turnout was greater than expected, lending legitimacy to Machado’s candidacy for presidential election. Govt officials, however, alleged primary had been fraudulent and 24 Oct said opposition had inflated voter turnout; Attorney General Tarek William Saab next day announced criminal investigation into primary’s organisers. Govt-controlled Supreme Court 30 Oct suspended results of primary and ordered organisers to hand over all materials related to process; U.S. same day warned it would take action if govt fails to uphold commitments under electoral roadmap.
Authorities allowed gatherings in support of Gaza in first exemption to protest ban in place since 2021, while cracking down on dissolved Islamist party.
Israel-Hamas war triggered show of solidarity with Palestinians. Hours after Hamas launched attack against Israel (see Israel/Palestine), foreign ministry 7 Oct denounced Israeli violence against Gaza Strip, indirectly supporting Hamas offensive. Few hundred people 13 Oct took to the streets of capital Algiers to express solidarity with Palestinians; security forces dispersed crowds, citing ban on protest in place since 2021. Under popular pressure to review stance, govt in following days authorised demonstrations in support of Palestinians, and thousands 19 Oct gathered in several cities; marches took place under strict police surveillance as Algiers fears Islamists and 2019-2021 Hirak protest movement leaders could take advantage of pro-Palestinian sentiment to make political comeback.
Authorities cracked down on leaders of dissolved Islamist party. Security services early Oct arrested several senior officials of dissolved Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) party, including founder Ali Benhadjar after they criticised govt, thereby contravening provisions of Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation of 2006, under which former FIS members are required to refrain from making political statements; FIS notably said ruling elite’s “unlimited greed” and “incorrect policies” had led to “political deadlock” and “increasing levels of poverty”. Authorities around 12 Oct charged 16 FIS members with “subversion and undermining state institutions”.
Algeria’s mediation initiative in coup-hit Niger faced setback. Foreign ministry 2 Oct announced Niger coup leaders accepted Algerian mediation to resolve “political, institutional and constitutional crisis”, which promotes six-month transition back to constitutional order. Niamey next day denied claim, emphasised transition duration could only be decided by “inclusive national forum”, thereby asserting desire to maintain control over process. Algiers 9 Oct announced postponing preparatory discussions on mediation until “necessary clarifications have been obtained”.
Cairo engaged in mediation efforts to stop escalation of violence in Gaza Strip; President Sisi announced re-election bid.
Authorities took steps to stem fallout from Israel-Hamas war. Egyptian policeman 8 Oct killed two Israeli tourists and their Egyptian guide in Alexandria city one day after Hamas launched attack against Israel (see Israel/Palestine), fuelling fears in Cairo of possible “imitation effect”. As Israel in following days laid siege to Gaza Strip and launched airstrikes on enclave ahead of ground offensive, Sisi engaged in diplomatic efforts to pre-empt potential repercussions of Israel-Hamas war for Egypt, including mass influx of refugees from Gaza into Sinai Peninsula and reactivation of jihadist networks. Cairo 19 Oct announced agreement with Israel for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza Strip through Rafah border crossing, and some aid 21 Oct started flowing. Cairo 21 Oct also hosted peace summit to push for ceasefire, but conference ended without breakthrough.
Presidential hopeful forced to withdraw amid harassment by authorities. Sisi 2 Oct confirmed third term bid. Authorities continued to press ahead with organisation of presidential election in December, making it virtually impossible for opposition candidates to challenge incumbent. Prominent presidential hopeful, Ahmed Tantawi, 13 Oct said he had not reached 25,000 individual endorsements required to stand in election, after authorities deployed series of measures to block his supporters, including intimidation, arrests and hacking of phones. Tantawi’s withdrawal leaves only four candidates in presidential race, including Sisi.
Authorities displayed confidence that they can extract concessions from IMF. After authorities late Sept announced that International Monetary Fund (IMF) had accepted to merge first and second review of Egypt’s economic reform program, Bloomberg 13 Oct reported that Egypt is seeking to boost IMF loan from current $3bn to $5bn. Meanwhile, anti-govt demonstrations 3 Oct broke out in Marsa Matrouh town on Mediterranean coast amid deteriorating socio-economic conditions; police reportedly detained dozens of protesters.
Tehran warned of regional conflagration if Israel expands its military campaign in Gaza, while EU and UK maintained sanctions due to be lifted under 2015 deal, triggering Iran’s ire.
Hamas-Israel war placed spotlight on Iran’s role and future intentions. Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), Tehran endorsed Hamas’s actions and warned of regional conflict should situation in Israel-Palestine escalate, while accusing U.S. of “managing” Israel’s assault against Gaza. U.S. and Israeli officials during Oct noted extensive support Iran has provided Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad over years, although U.S. President Biden 12 Oct asserted “no evidence” so far that Tehran had foreknowledge of attack. U.S. 18 and 27 Oct imposed two sets of Hamas-related sanctions; latter included Tehran-based “liaison between Hamas and the Iranian govt” and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officials said to help train Hamas and other groups. Against backdrop of looming Israeli ground offensive into Gaza, frequent deadly exchanges occurred along Israel-Lebanon border (see Lebanon), in addition to more than 25 drone and rocket attacks by Iran-backed proxies against U.S. forces in region (see Iraq and Syria); in retaliation, U.S. 26 Oct struck Syrian sites used by “IRGC and affiliated group”. U.S. and allies warned Iran of dangers of regional escalation publicly, privately and by significant U.S. military deployments to region. In case of expanded Israeli ground incursion into Gaza, Iran could support or prod its proxies to escalate attacks against Israel and U.S. in calibrated manner, raising risks of miscalculation and tensions spinning out of control.
EU and UK retained sanctions set to be lifted under 2015 deal. EU and UK 17-18 Oct confirmed they would keep in place non-proliferation sanctions due to expire as part of 2015 nuclear deal’s “Transition Day”, citing Iran’s non-compliance with agreement. Iran 18 Oct labelled decision “unilateral, illegal and politically unjustifiable”. U.S., EU, UK alongside dozens of other states 18 Oct asserted “it is imperative that all States continue to take steps to counter Iran’s destabilising ballistic missile-related activities”. In parallel, U.S. unveiled sanctions against 26 persons, entities and vessel linked to ballistic missile and UAV programs.
Iran-backed armed groups could further escalate attacks on U.S. forces as Israel expands military campaign in Gaza; Türkiye intensified airstrikes on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Iran-backed groups targeted U.S. after Israel-Hamas war erupted. Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), Iran-aligned “resistance groups” – including Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Badr Organization and Kataib Hezbollah – stated readiness to support Palestinians, threatening to strike U.S. assets across region. U.S. 31 Oct revealed its forces in Iraq and Syria had suffered 27 attacks with drones or rockets since 7 Oct, of which sixteen occurred in Iraq and caused minor injuries to personnel; attacks come after months-long period of informal truce. Israeli ground operations in Gaza may fuel further such attacks and prompt calls from Iran-aligned politicians for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Notably, drone attacks 18 Oct targeted U.S. forces at Ain al-Assad airbase, Anbar governorate, and al-Harir airbase, Erbil governorate. Rocket attack next day targeted Ain al-Assad airbase and three Katyusha rockets struck international coalition base near Baghdad airport. Coalition of Sunni insurgent groups Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance claimed drone attack on 21 Oct targeting Ain Al-Assad airbase. Meanwhile, thousands 13 Oct responded to calls of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to demonstrate in solidarity with Palestine in capital Baghdad.
Türkiye escalated strikes on PKK targets following Ankara attack. In response to 1 Oct PKK attack in Turkish capital Ankara (see Türkiye), Türkiye escalated attacks targeting PKK in northern Iraq; notably, 1, 3, 4 Oct struck PKK targets along Turkish border, including Metina, Gara, Hakurk, Qandil, and Asos governorates. Turkish FM Hakan Fidan 4 Oct announced all PKK infrastructure, including energy facilities, were “legitimate targets”. Iraqi Kurdish authorities 26 Oct announced ten PKK members were killed in airstrikes in Erbil and Dohuk provinces.
In other important developments. Military and Kurdish Peshmerga forces 22 Oct clashed in dispute over control of strategic military posts previously held by PKK, reportedly in Makhmour district between Erbil and Ninewa governorates, killing four. Iran 2 Oct said Iraq had implemented some parts, but not all, of border security arrangements requiring it to relocate Iranian oppositions groups.
Hamas slaughtered 1,400 in unprecedented attack, triggering indiscriminate Israeli bombardment of Gaza that killed over 8,500 and set off humanitarian crisis; threat of regional war loomed large, as Qatari mediation offered slim hope for talks.
Hamas’s assault triggered full-scale war. Hamas 7 Oct launched multi-pronged offensive into southern Israel, killing around 1,400 Israelis and taking at least 200 hostages. Israeli PM Netanyahu 7 Oct declared Israel “at war” and 11 Oct formed emergency govt with opposition. Israel launched 6,000 airstrikes on Gaza in first six days after attack and thousands more since, killing over 8,500 Palestinians, including over 3,500 children, according to Gaza’s health ministry (as of 31 Oct). Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant 9 Oct announced “full siege” of Gaza Strip, cutting off electricity, food, medicine, and water; disease and starvation are poised to become serious additional threats to civilians. Israel 13 Oct ordered evacuation of northern and central Gaza Strip, displacing around 1.4m, and 27 Oct expanded ground operations; while it seems plausible Israel can occupy northern Gaza, how it will deal with Hamas forces in south is unclear; speculation Israel may seek to forcibly displace Gazans into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula triggered fierce Egyptian opposition. Israeli airstrikes 31 Oct hit Jabalia refugee camp, killing dozens. Gaza-based militants fired daily rockets; Israel 31 Oct announced eleven soldiers killed during incursion. Qatari mediation secured release of four hostages, raising prospect indirect communication could release more captives and serve as basis for ceasefire talks. Netanyahu 30 Oct rejected ceasefire, saying “this is a time for war”.
In West Bank, Israeli forces and settlers killed scores of Palestinians. Israel 7 Oct imposed total closure on West Bank and East Jerusalem and reportedly arrested 1,500 Palestinians, while Israeli forces and settlers dramatically stepped up violence, killing at least 118 Palestinians, amid Palestinian protests across territory. In first in decades, Israeli airstrikes 19 and 22 Oct in West Bank killed over dozen.
Border clashes with Hizbollah raised risk of regional war. Near-daily border clashes between Hizbollah and Israeli forces killed dozens of Hizbollah fighters and at least eight Israeli soldiers, raising risk of war spreading to other fronts (see Lebanon).
Thousands rallied countrywide in solidarity with Palestinians as govt sharply criticised Israel’s “massacre” and “war crime” in Gaza.
Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), Jordanians rallied near-daily close to Israeli embassy in capital Amman in solidarity with Palestinians. Tensions rose as security forces 13 Oct dispersed around 500 protesters with tear gas as they attempted to reach area bordering Israeli-occupied West Bank outside Amman, despite Interior Ministry 12 Oct banning protests in area. Protesters in Amman 13 Oct demanded closure of Israeli embassy and abrogation of 1994 peace treaty with Israel, while thousands also rallied in Irbid and Zarqa cities in support of Hamas. After deadly blast at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, security forces 17 Oct clashed with protesters near Israeli embassy as demonstrators sought to storm compound, injuring several anti-riot personnel. Meanwhile on diplomatic front, govt 17 Oct cancelled summit scheduled next day with U.S., Egyptian and Palestinian leaders to discuss situation in Gaza; FM Ayman Safadi said summit would be held later when parties could agree to end “war and the massacres against Palestinians”. At Cairo Peace Conference, King Abdullah II 21 Oct called Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza “a war crime” and lamented “selective” application of international law to Palestinian issue. UN General Assembly 27 Oct adopted resolution proposed by Jordan calling for “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” in Gaza. Army 30 Oct said it requested U.S. to deploy air defence systems as tensions rise in region.
Border clashes between Hizbollah and Israeli forces killed dozens of militants and multiple Israeli soldiers; hostilities could open new front in Israel-Hamas war in coming weeks.
Lebanon faced spectre of major conflict. Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), Hizbollah repeatedly stated its willingness to militarily intervene to support its ally Hamas. Border areas witnessed pattern of near-daily clashes between group and Israeli forces that killed around 50 Hizbollah fighters and at least eight Israeli soldiers during Oct, with intensity and casualty count inching upward and geographical scope of hostilities reportedly widening late Oct. While clashes appeared to remain manageable, sides ap-peared to be merely one bloody attack – by accident or design – away from triggering escalation that spirals into all-out war, or Hizbollah may intervene to support Hamas as Israeli ground operations in Gaza get under way. Notably, Hizbollah 8 Oct launched several guided rockets into disputed Shebaa farms; Israel 9 Oct killed three Hizbollah fighters in retaliation for alleged infiltration attempt by Palestinian fighters; pair over subsequent days exchanged missiles and shelling. Hizbollah strike 11 Oct allegedly killed Israeli. Israel 17 Oct reportedly killed five Hizbollah fighters in airstrikes.
Syrian refugees faced oppressive govt measures and threats to safety. In sign of rising hostility, caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi 4 Oct claimed Syrians are responsible for 30% of crime and next day ordered authorities to crack down on Syrians without valid residency permits, close down Syrian-owned businesses operating without valid paperwork and enforce “categorical ban” on donations to support Syrian refugees. Large brawl 5 Oct erupted between Lebanese and Syrians in capital Beirut, while reports indicated bands of Lebanese roamed streets at night searching for Syrians to attack.
Presidential vacuum reached one-year anniversary amid economic crisis. No signs of progress emerged of filling presidency, which has been vacant since 1 Nov 2022, reflecting prevailing political deadlock. Economic crisis remained severe despite ongoing period of relative stability for Lebanese Lira, which may have been buoyed by substantial influx of hard currency but could soon face sharp devaluation.
Parliament passed election laws, but major obstacles to holding votes remained; deadly clashes erupted between rival forces in eastern city of Benghazi and western city of Gharyan.
Election laws continued to spark controversy. Eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR) early Oct approved revised versions of presidential and parliamentary election laws and referred them to High Electoral Commission for implementation. Mohamed Tekala, new head of rival Tripoli-based High State Council (HSC), in following days rejected laws and scrapped cooperation with HoR; some HSC members contended that move did not reflect HSC’s stance, but just that of Tekala-aligned members. In briefing to UN Security Council, UN Special Representative for Libya Abdoulaye Bathily 16 Oct welcomed “some progress” in electoral process, but noted most politically contentious issues remained unresolved, with mandatory second round of presidential election and linkage between presidential and parliamentary elections putting electoral process at “high risk of disruption”; Bathily also noted negotiations between rival authorities required to form new govt ahead of elections remain elusive.
Rival forces engaged in deadly clashes. Former Tripoli-based Defence Minister al-Mahdi al-Barghathi early Oct travelled to his home city of Benghazi, allegedly alongside 40 of his followers. Claiming that Barghathi’s return had not been pre-approved and could be first step in plot to mobilise anti-Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar forces in Benghazi, forces aligned with Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) 6 Oct attempted to arrest him in Salmani district, sparking firefight that allegedly left at least 17 people dead, including one of Barghathi’s sons; LNA also cut off all communication in Benghazi for over a week. Meanwhile, clashes 29 Oct erupted in western city of Gharyan between Tripoli-based govt-affiliated militia and forces loyal to militia leader Adel Daab (who was expelled from Gharyan in 2019 by forces affiliated to former Tripoli-based govt after he handed control of city to Haftar’s forces); local sources reported eight people killed and 27 injured.
In other important developments. After flooding in Sept devastated eastern city of Derna, anger continued to simmer among locals who blame disaster on poor governance. Total death toll still uncertain: local authorities confirmed retrieving over 4,000 bodies, but number of missing is unclear.
Riyadh criticised Israel following outbreak of war with Hamas, which likely indefinitely postponed Saudi-Israel normalisation process.
Saudi Arabia called for de-escalation in Gaza, condemned Israel. Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), Saudi Arabia 7 Oct called for de-escalation and condemned Israel’s “continued occupation, the deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights, and the repetition of systematic provocations against its sanctities”. After Israel 13 Oct ordered over 1m Palestinian in northern Gaza to evacuate south, Riyadh 13 Oct affirmed its “categorical rejection of the calls for the forcible displacement”. Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman 15 Oct met U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken in capital Riyadh to discuss conflict; 20 Oct met United Arab Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed in Riyadh. Meanwhile, sources reported that normalisation efforts with Israel were put on ice, although FM Faisal bin Farhan 24 Oct asserted “the Arabs are serious” about returning to a peace process and U.S. President Biden and Mohammad Bin Salman in call same day agreed to build on “the work that was already under way”.
Saudi and Iranian leaders held phone call. Mohammad Bin Salman 11 Oct spoke directly with Iranian President Raisi for first time since restoration of diplomatic ties in March, stressing kingdom was engaging “with all international and regional parties to halt the ongoing escalation” in Israel-Palestine.
Marking one of most violent periods in years, regime and Russia esca-lated bombardment in north west, Türkiye intensified strikes and ISIS maintained desert insurgency; Israel-Hamas war threatened to spread to Syria.
North west witnessed most intense bombing since March 2020 ceasefire. Suspected Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)-operated suicide drones 5 Oct struck Homs mili-tary academy graduation, killing at least 89 soldiers and civilians and injuring over 270; by striking more than 140km away from Idlib, attack may signal new phase of HTS campaign against regime. In response, regime and Russian forces same day began intensive shelling of Idlib and Aleppo provinces, which during Oct killed at least 50 civilians and displaced almost 70,000. Drone attacks 7 Oct reportedly targeted Russia’s Istamo airbase in Latakia province and Aleppo city 8-18 Oct. Russia 13 Oct increased airstrikes in Idlib and regime forces mid-month intensified shelling; HTS and allied groups retaliated with artillery, snipers, and guided missiles, while suspected HTS-operated drones targeted communities across north and east Hama.
In north east, Türkiye intensified anti-Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) strikes. In response to 1 Oct PKK attack in Turkish capital Ankara (see Türkiye), Turkish FM Hakan Fidan 4 Oct declared all PKK and People’s Protection Units infrastructure “legitimate targets”; subsequent drone strikes targeted water and energy infrastructure and Syrian Democratic Forces targets, killing more than 50 and exacerbating humanitarian crisis.
Islamic State (ISIS) attacked in centre. ISIS stepped up pressure on regime forces in Homs province; following 5-18 Oct probing attacks, ISIS 18 Oct seized and held six regime outposts south of Sukhnah town and Wadi Doubayat gas field.
Amid Israel-Hamas war, tit-for-tat attacks between Iran-backed groups and U.S., Israel could escalate. Following Hamas-Israel war outbreak (see Israel-Palestine), Iranian forces reportedly repositioned around 300 Syrian and Lebanese fighters to Quneitra, underscoring potential for Israel’s war on Gaza to draw in regional actors. Suspected Iran-backed forces in Quneitra and Dara’a 11-29 Oct fired artillery shells at northern Israel, prompting multiple Israeli retaliatory strikes: notably, Israel shelling 25 Oct killed eight Syrian soldiers. In east, U.S. 31 Oct said suspected Iran-backed forces conducted total eleven attacks on its positions since 7 Oct; U.S. 26 Oct launched two airstrikes near Mayadeen city in response.
Rare prison break prompted govt to dismiss top intelligence officials; crowd torched Jewish mausoleum amid escalation of violence in Gaza Strip.
Five Islamist convicts broke out of prison. Five Islamist prisoners convicted of killing policemen and two secular politicians 31 Oct escaped from Mornaguia prison near capital Tunis. Interior ministry announced dismissing two top officials in intelligence services, while justice ministry sacked director of Mornaguia prison.
Crowd rampaged through Jewish site. As violence escalated in Gaza amid Israel-Hamas war (see Israel/Palestine), thousands 17 Oct gathered in centre of Tunis to condemn Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip and denounce bias of French and other Western media in favour of Israel, demanding departure of French ambassador; rioters same day burned down 16th century El Hamma Jewish mausoleum near Gabès city (south). President Saïed hours later summoned National Security Council, said “the battle today is against international Zionism”, not Jewish people. As protests continued, parliamentary committee 24 Oct approved draft law criminalising normalisation of relations with Israel.
Repression of dissent continued with detention of prominent opposition leader. Presidential guard and police 3 Oct arrested Abir Moussi, president of Free Patriotic Union opposition party, in front of presidential palace as she tried to file appeal against recent presidential decree related to local elections; judge 5 Oct ordered her imprisonment on suspicion of “assault intended to cause chaos”. Around 1,500 supporters of Moussi 15 Oct took to streets of Tunis to demand her immediate release.
Tunis handed back EU money, dealing a blow to controversial migration pact. After European Commission late Sept announced €127mn for Tunisia in support of implementation of “strategic partnership” on economy and migration signed in July, Saïed 2 Oct rejected funds, dismissing “derisory” amount running counter to July agreement. Commission 12 Oct confirmed that Tunis had returned €60mn in budget support. Meanwhile, 2024 draft budget released 16 Oct made no mention of International Monetary Fund deal, and Saïed 17 Oct dismissed economy minister.
UN Security Council renewed MINURSO mandate.
UN Sec Gen António Guterres’ annual report on Western Sahara 3 Oct highlighted UN envoy Staffan de Mistura’s continuing efforts to relaunch UN-led peace process. UN Security Council 30 Oct voted to extend mandate of UN mission (MINURSO) for another year until 31 Oct 2024; resolution won support of 13 of 15 Security Council members, with Russia and Mozambique abstaining, as council remains divided on Western Sahara crisis.
Houthis launched long-range missiles and drones targeting Israel, which were intercepted by Israeli defences; group threatened further such attacks in coming weeks that risk expanding Israel-Hamas war.
Houthis targeted Israel, raising prospect of regional escalation. Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), Houthi leader Abdulmalek Al-Houthi 10 Oct declared group’s readiness to respond with drones and missiles to any U.S. involvement in Hamas-Israel war and expressed willingness to coordinate intervention with other Iran-backed “Axis of Resistance” members, including Iraqi factions and Hizbollah in Lebanon (see Iran, Iraq and Lebanon). Underscoring potential for greater involvement of such actors, U.S. navy 19 Oct intercepted three cruise missiles and multiple drones reportedly launched by Houthis, potentially targeting Israel. Drones 27 Oct struck Egyptian Red Sea town Taba, injuring six, while second drone was downed over Red Sea; Israel blamed Houthis for attack aimed at Israel. Houthis 31 Oct fired drones and ballistic missiles at southern Israel, which were intercepted by Israeli jets and air defence systems; group claimed responsibility and vowed further such strikes if “Israeli aggression” against Hamas continues.
Dialogue between Houthis and Saudi Arabia awaited breakthrough. Houthi delegation’s visit to Saudi Arabia in Sept set stage for further talks and possible progress. Houthi attack on Saudi military position in Jazan's Doud mountain near border 25 Oct killed four Saudi soldiers. On diplomatic front, UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg 4 Oct met Omani FM Badr Al-Busaidi in Omani capital Muscat to discuss developments in Yemen. Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) head Rashad al-Alimi 18 Oct held separate meetings with Grundberg and U.S. envoy Tim Lenderking in Saudi capital Riyadh.
In other important developments. Syria 10 Oct notified Houthis to vacate Yemeni embassy in Syrian capital Damascus, which they have effectively controlled since 2015. PLC 11 Oct said Syria’s decision followed its engagement with Damascus. Explosive device 4 Oct killed commander of Security Belt forces, Salem Sal’an, in Abyan governorate, reportedly during operation against al-Qaeda. Yemenia Airlines 17 Oct resumed six weekly flights from Sanaa international airport to Jordan, after Houthis froze company’s accounts.