CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
Our monthly conflict tracker warns of four conflict risks in October.
Our monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in six countries in September.
We also noted an improvement in Lebanon, where the formation of a new government ended a thirteen-month period with caretaker authorities.
Aside from the 70+ conflict situations we regularly assess, we tracked notable developments in: Brazil, Eswatini, Indonesia and Montenegro.
Our CrisisWatch Digests for Ethiopia, Lebanon and Somalia offer a monthly one-page snapshot of conflict-related country trends in a clear, accessible format, using a map of the region to pinpoint developments:
Govt’s plan to relocate displaced people to violence-ridden south east and south west under strain as jihadist attacks on civilians continued. In Diffa region (south east), jihadists continued to target civilians in alleged bid to sabotage govt’s relocation plan. Suspected militants from Boko Haram’s Bakura faction 4 Sept abducted teacher in Kindjandi village (Diffa department); 13 Sept attacked civilian transport vehicle on Blabrine-N’Guigmi axis, wounding one; 21-23 Sept reportedly abducted village chief and about 20 women and children in N’Guigmi department. Alleged Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) combatants 7 Sept ambushed two civilian vehicles on Ngagam-Ehl Mainari axis, wounding at least four. Local sources 1 Sept accused security forces of having executed 17 fishermen following deadly jihadist attack in Baroua town late Aug. In Tillabery region (south west), suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) combatants 9 Sept killed 11 in Niarbou Kouara village (Ouallam department); suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 22 Sept attacked National Guard position near Tamou village (Say department) killing one guard. President Bazoum 10-11 Sept visited Tillabery region in bid to bolster relocation efforts. NGO Amnesty International 13 Sept warned about increasing number of children killed or recruited by armed groups – notably ISGS and JNIM – in Tillabery this year. France 16 Sept said French Barkhane forces mid-Aug killed ISGS leader Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui in tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Meanwhile, G5 Sahel force’s member states (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad) 31 Aug-1 Sept met in capital Niamey, agreed on necessity to develop more multilateral and bilateral operations in tri-border area. Authorities 9 Sept charged two local journalists with “defamation” and “disruption of public safety” under controversial 2019 cyber criminality law, after they published international NGO study on drug trafficking in Niger.
Uncertainty around national dialogue persisted and transitional authorities formed interim parliament; Libyan forces attacked Chadian rebels and intercommunal violence killed dozens. Amid widespread doubts over Transitional Military Council (CMT) head Mahamat Idriss Déby’s readiness to genuinely engage in dialogue with some armed groups, Déby 3 Sept met with ex-rebels of Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) who indicated willingness to join dialogue; in response, UFR – led by Mahamat Déby’s cousins Timan and Tom Erdimi – said group will not participate in dialogue. Opposition Socialist Party without Borders’ President Yaya Dillo Djérou 5 Sept claimed CMT does not intend to organise sincere national dialogue. Mahamat Déby 24 Sept named 93 members of interim legislative body National Transitional Council, including former parliamentarians, politico-military leaders and civil society representatives. Civil society platform Wakit Tama, which has been at forefront of opposition to CMT since April, increasingly weakened as several core members, including Chadian Convention for the Defence of Human Rights (CTDHH), throughout month left coalition; CTDHH 11 Sept announced it will participate in upcoming national dialogue. Forces loyal to Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar 14 Sept launched air and ground operation against Libya-based Chadian rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) position in Tarbu area along Chadian border, reportedly leaving several dead (see Libya). FACT next day said Chadian, French and Sudanese forces involved; Chadian Defence Minister Daoud Yaya Brahim later denied accusation, claimed “no Chadian soldier intervened on Libyan soil”. Operation comes after Mahamat Déby late-Aug stressed need to reactivate 2018 quadripartite agreement between Chad, Sudan, Libya and Niger providing for establishment of mixed force to secure shared borders. Meanwhile, intercommunal violence 19 Sept left at least 27 dead in Kidji-Mina and Tiyo villages, Ouaddaï region (east). Suspected Boko Haram elements overnight 19-20 Sept attacked Kadjigoroum village in Lake region (west), killing nine. Govt 24 Sept announced plans to increase army size from current 35,000 to 60,000 troops by end of 2022 to cope with security challenges.
Tigray forces’ advance faced resistance in Amhara and Afar; violence continued in Oromia and federal govt deployed reinforcements to Benishangul-Gumuz. Federal govt 9 Sept said military and Afar forces had compelled Tigray forces to withdraw from Afar region; Tigray forces denied claim, said they redeployed to neighbouring Amhara region. Large parts of Amhara’s North Wollo Zone, including Weldiya and Lalibela cities, still under Tigray forces’ control by month’s end. Amhara officials 8 Sept accused Tigray forces of having killed over 120 civilians in Chenna village near Dabat town (North Gondar Zone) 1-2 Sept – in what would be one of deadliest massacres of ten-month war; Tigray forces rejected “fabricated allegation”, as well as claims they executed dozens of civilians in and around Kobo town in North Wollo Zone starting 9 Sept. Mobilisation continued, with military graduating tens of thousands of new recruits in Sept. UN humanitarian agency 2 Sept reported less than 10% of required aid had entered Tigray region since mid-July, 1.7mn in Afar and Amhara food insecure due to war. U.S. President Biden 17 Sept allowed U.S. govt to sanction individuals and entities involved in conflict. Addis late Sept expelled seven senior UN officials, citing “meddling”. Violence increased in Oromia region following Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)’s Aug alliance with Tigray forces. OLA late Aug-early Sept claimed to have captured localities in East Wollega Zone and parts of Borana Zone from govt forces; around 22 Sept clashed with federal govt and Oromia forces in North Shewa Zone. OLA also continued attacks on civilians, reportedly killing at least 28 in Kiramu district, East Wollega Zone 16-18 Sept. Meanwhile, federal govt deployed troops from four regions to Benishangul-Gumuz region in north west after regional authorities 9 Sept accused ethnic Gumuz rebels of killing five security forces and one Chinese national in Metekel Zone previous day; attacks in Metekel have displaced hundreds of thousands since Sept 2020. Delayed parliamentary elections held 30 Sept in Somali, Harari and Southern Nations (SNNPR) regional states; voters in part of SNNPR same day voted in referendum to decide whether or not to form South Western regional state.
Amid sustained offensive by govt forces and its allies, Islamist militants launched series of attacks in far north; counter-insurgency efforts reportedly expanded to Niassa province. In far north Cabo Delgado province, Islamist militants 3 Sept reportedly staged multiple attacks on military positions in Mocìmboa da Praia district; death toll unknown. Militants mid-month used IED reportedly containing landmine elements to ambush Rwandan armoured columns on Mbau-Indegue road in southern Mocìmboa da Praia; incident suggests return of landmine use in Mozambique and new insurgent tactic involving IEDs. President Nyusi 7 Sept claimed nearly all towns and villages in Cabo Delgado back in govt hands, while joint Mozambican and Rwandan forces by next day reportedly reached key insurgent base ‘Siri 1’ in southern Mocìmboa da Praia. Southern African regional bloc SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) 14 Sept captured insurgent base south of Messalo river, Macomia district; 25 Sept killed 17 militants and lost Tanzanian soldier in raid on insurgent base near Chitama settlement, Nangade district. Fifteen insurgents mid-month surrendered to authorities near Quiterajo administrative post, Macomia, claimed desertions were high among combatants; govt forces, likely working with SAMIM, 22 Sept struck insurgent camp near Quiterajo, reportedly killing five militants and rescuing 87 civilians held captive. In Quissanga district, militants reportedly moving south away from joint force operations 16-20 Sept killed at least 22 civilians in four villages; 23 Sept reportedly launched series of attacks across Quissanga, killing at least five. After Rwandan President Paul Kagame 5 Sept said Rwandan forces had gathered intelligence of potential militant expansion into Niassa province (which shares border with Cabo Delgado), Mozambican, Rwandan and SAMIM troops reportedly deployed there as of 11 Sept. Meanwhile, NGO Human Rights Watch 7 Sept called on authorities to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of displaced women in exchange for humanitarian aid in Cabo Delgado. In Sofala province in centre, suspected members of Renamo Military Junta (JMR), armed dissident faction of opposition Renamo party, 9 Sept killed one in Chinapanimba village, Muanza district. Meanwhile, JMR leader Mariano Nhongo 8 Sept warned JMR “will never disappear”, called on govt to negotiate.
Japan’s calls for resolute defence of disputed islands in East China Sea, China maintained heavy maritime presence in area. Japanese foreign ministry 16 Sept announced it lodged formal protest with China over 30 Aug appearance of seven Chinese coast guard vessels in contiguous zone of disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, with ships approaching five Japanese fishing vessels; Japanese Coast Guard called event “extremely serious”, saying it was largest number of ships in area since 2016; unconfirmed reports indicated Chinese coast guard ship rammed Japanese coast guard vessel. Separately, at least 91 Chinese coast guard vessels entered contiguous zone of disputed islands during month, while four entered territorial waters. Elsewhere, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force 3 Sept observed Chinese naval flotilla in Miyako Strait, which Chinese commentators described as warning to Japan and Taiwan, and Japanese defence ministry 12 Sept reported Chinese submarine in contiguous zones of its southern islands. Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force 15 Sept launched largest military exercise since 1993, with 100,000 personnel simulating defence of south-western Japan. Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi 16 Sept said Japan has to demonstrate its resolute defence of Diaoyu/Senkaku islands with “greater number of Japanese coast guard vessels than that of China”. Joint statement from first in-person summit of “Quad” leaders (U.S., Australia, India and Japan) 24 Sept noted need to “meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order” in East China Sea. Former Japanese FM Fumio Kishida 29 Sept won party leadership election and is set to become next PM; Kishida same day declared intention to pursue “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
Seoul and Pyongyang conducted high-profile missile tests, overshadowing high-level meetings to reignite diplomatic track. In sign of rising inter-Korean arms race and end of quiet period since so-called “Winter Olympic truce” in 2018, North Korea and South Korea tested missiles. Pyongyang 11 and 12 Sept tested intermediate-range cruise missiles, and 15 Sept fired two railway-mobile ballistic missiles from South Pyongan province toward east coast in violation of UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting ballistic missile tests; North Korea 28 Sept fired missile from central north province of Jagang. South Korea 15 Sept tested submarine-launched ballistic missile, becoming first country without nuclear weapons to do so; South Korean President Moon Jae-in same day said missiles would prove “sufficient deterrence to respond to North Korea’s provocations at any time”; Kim Yo-jong, senior North Korean official and sister of leader Kim Jong-un, same day criticised Moon, warning “slander and detraction” could push bilateral relations “toward a complete destruction”. Tests also coincided with meeting between Chinese FM Wang Yi and South Korean FM Chung Eui-yong in South Korea’s capital Seoul, and came one day after meeting between nuclear envoys of U.S., South Korea and Japan in Japanese capital Tokyo to discuss bringing North Korea back to negotiating table; latter meeting urged North Korea to respond to offers of unconditional dialogue. During his UN General Assembly address, Moon Jae-in 21 Sept proposed formal end to 1950-1953 Korean War; North Korea Vice FM Ri Thae Song 24 Sept rejected proposal, saying nothing will change so long as “U.S. hostile policy is not shifted”. Shortly after missile test, North Korea’s UN Envoy Kim Song 28 Sept said govt would respond to offers of talks if U.S. revised “double standards” and hostile policy; Kim Jong-un 30 Sept announced he had requested communication lines with South Korea be restored to “promote peace”.
China warned U.S. against official diplomatic interactions with Taiwan, while military activity continued in region. U.S. President Biden in 9 Sept call to Chinese President Xi said U.S. had no intention of changing its one-China policy. Media reports 10 Sept indicated U.S. was considering changing name of Taiwan’s U.S. mission from “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” to “Taiwan Representative Office”. In response, China 13 Sept called on U.S. to stop official interactions, calling Taiwan “the most important and sensitive issue at the core of China-US relations”; should official office name be changed, Beijing may respond by ramping up military activity around Taiwan or flying its planes across de facto sea demarcation known as “median line”. Meanwhile, military activity continued. Number of Chinese military planes that entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone rose, returning to high levels last seen in April; notably, 24 planes entered on 23 Sept. Chinese military 17 Sept conducted exercise off Taiwan’s south-western coast. U.S. warship same day transited through Taiwan Strait in ninth such passage in 2021. Taiwan 13-17 Sept conducted annual Han Kuang military exercise and 16 Sept announced proposal to allocate $8.7 bn in addition to defence budget over next five years to purchase missiles, naval ships and weapons systems for warships. British warship 27 Sept sailed through Taiwan Strait for first time since 2008. European Parliament 16 Sept adopted resolution calling for bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan and European Commission to facilitate Taipei’s full participation as an observer in UN agencies. China 20 Sept began ban on import of Taiwan’s custard and wax apples, 90% of which go to China, citing pests; Taiwan denied charge and warned it would file formal complaint at World Trade Organization.
Amid worsening humanitarian crisis and crackdown on protests, Taliban tightened its grip across country, including by gaining control over Panjshir province. After initial negotiation efforts failed, Taliban 2 Sept stepped up efforts to capture last stronghold of Panjshir province (north) as group sent troops, set up blockade and cut off telecommunications, food and other supplies from getting to valley. Taliban 6 Sept gained control of provincial capital, marking first time group controls city; Ahmad Massoud, leader of Northern Resistance Front, same day vowed to resist and called for large-scale protests. Series of anti-Taliban protests took place in early Sept; notably, hundreds of people, including women, 7 Sept protested in capital Kabul chanting anti-Pakistan slogans and “freedom”; amid rising crackdown on demonstrators, Taliban 9 Sept cut off internet and phone services to several suburbs of Kabul to disrupt coordination among protesters. Taliban 7-8 Sept announced new acting govt composed of old guard, including Mohammad Hassan Akhund, group’s founding member, as PM; Abdul Ghani Baradar, lead negotiator in U.S.-Taliban Feb 2020 deal, as deputy PM; Mohammad Yaqub, son of group’s first leader Mohammad Omar, as defence minister; Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of prominent militant Jalaluddin Haqqani, as interior minister; and Amir Khan Muttaqi, veteran Taliban diplomat, as FM. First slate of cabinet appointments excluded women and several ethnic groups (only small minority of appointments are non-Pashtuns); no state had yet recognised new govt by end of month. Following U.S. freeze in mid-Aug over country’s financial assets and aid suspension, concerns rose over economic collapse, humanitarian crisis and potential mass exodus; donors 13 Sept pledged more than $1.1 billion following UN flash appeal for humanitarian assistance. Aside from sporadic violence in Panjshir and Baghlan provinces, violent incidents reportedly six times lower than 2021 average prior to Taliban take-over. There was, however, increasing trend of incidents targeting Taliban’s security forces, with majority being claimed by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K): notably, roadside bombs near daily mid-to-late month targeted Taliban vehicles in Nangarhar province (east); bomb 18 Sept attacked private vehicle leaving two civilians injured.
Authorities targeted members of opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, and arrested dozens of Rohingyas fleeing refugee camp on flood-prone island. Rohingya refugees continued to seek to escape refugee camp on flood-prone Bhasan Char island; notably, police 8-9 Sept arrested 28 Rohingyas who had fled in Chittagong’s Sitakunda sub-district and Mirsarai area. Addressing virtual meeting on Rohingya crisis held under Bangladesh’s auspices and co-sponsored among others by EU and Organisation of Islamic Conference that called for “urgent” global efforts to repatriate Rohingyas from Bangladesh, PM Sheikh Hasina 23 Sept warned that failure to repatriate would “jeopardise our collective security” since alienated refugees are “easy prey to extremist ideologies”. Unknown assailants 29 Sept killed prominent Rohingya Muslim leader Mohib Ullah. Authorities arrested dozens of members of Jamaat-e-Islami, police 6 Sept detained around 12 Jamaat-e-Islami leaders on charges of conspiring to commit sedition in capital Dhaka; 10 Sept arrested ten female Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and activists in Satkhira district; 12 Sept detained three members of group’s student wing in Rajshahi district. Court 12 Sept accepted charges lodged by paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) against cartoonist and six others for anti-govt activities on social media. Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit same day opened investigations into bank accounts of 11 senior journalists; journalist union 17 Sept called investigations “unprecedented and ill-motivated”. Authorities continued to arrest suspected militants: notably, RAB 4 Sept arrested four suspected Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants in Mymensingh district; 9 Sept arrested alleged JMB leader in Dhaka. Counter-terrorism police 16 Sept detained two suspected Ansar al-Islam militants in Mymensingh district; and next day claimed to have arrested two Ansar al-Islam members in Mymensingh district. Police 10 Sept arrested around 45 members of Tablighi Jamaat, Sunni Islamic missionary movement, from mosques in Dinajpur district, accusing them of planning to carry out sabotage; denying charge, mosque leaders said that Tablighi Jamaat members had come from Dhaka for religious assembly.
Military held exercises close to disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, authorities signed agreement with insurgent groups in Assam state, and clashes with Maoists persisted. Army 3 Sept conducted live-fire exercises using tanks and helicopters in eastern Ladakh, close to Line of Actual Control (LAC). FM S. Jaishankar 16 Sept met Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, where Jaishankar noted some progress in resolution of issues related to LAC as well as completion of disengagement in Gogra area since July but said there were still outstanding issues. In Assam state, govt 5 Sept signed peace agreement with provincial govt and with five insurgent groups — the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front, People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri, United People’s Liberation Army, Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers and the Kuki Liberation Front — from tribal region of Karbi Anglong; agreement pledged devolution of power and greater autonomy. Maoist violence continued at lower level in Sept compared to Aug; in Maharashtra state (west), Maoists 19 Sept shot dead villager in Gadchiroli District; exchange of fire between security forces and Maoist militants 21 Sept also occurred in Malkangiri District of Odisha state (east). Hundreds of thousands of farmers 5 Sept rallied in Muzaffarnagar city in Uttar Pradesh state (north) to protest govt-proposed agricultural reforms in largest protest in almost ten months of campaigning. Protesters 27 Sept marked ten months with all-India shutdown rally, blocking roads and railway lines in capital Delhi and calling for national strike. Amid armed clashes in Myanmar, thousands of refugees 10 Sept entered Champhai and Hnahthial districts of Mizoram state, which shares 501km border with country (see Myanmar).
Tensions between India and Pakistan and within Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continued to run high, including over controversial burial of Kashmiri leader. In virtual UN General Assembly, Pakistan PM Khan 24 Sept condemned rights violations in J&K, including forcible burial of prominent Kashmiri leader. In J&K, death of 92-year-old Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani – who had been in prison and under house arrest since 2010 – on 1 Sept sparked tensions after family alleged that Indian police hurriedly buried Geelani in early hours next day, denying him burial in line with his wishes. Fearing protests and clashes, Indian govt 1-3 Sept imposed communications blackout and curfew in Kashmir valley. In Jammu, traders 22 Sept went on strike to protest govt’s “anti-trade” policies. J&K National Conference party leader Omar Abdullah 1 Sept asked Indian govt to clarify whether it still considered Taliban to be terrorist organisation after it contacted Taliban officials in Qatar’s capital Doha day before. Taliban leader Anas Haqqani same day said Kashmir was not part of their jurisdiction; Taliban 3 Sept however said it is group’s right “to raise our voice for Muslims in Kashmir”. J&K Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti 19 Sept accused ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using threats posed by Afghan Taliban and Pakistan to gain votes. Indian Army official 20 Sept said Afghan militants were unlikely to extend operations to Kashmir, said he focused on presence of around 60-70 Pakistani militants seeking to motivate local youth to take up arms in Kashmir. Militant attacks and security operations continued in J&K. Notably, militants 12 Sept killed police officer in regional capital Srinagar; 17 Sept killed police officer and migrant labourer in separate incidents in Kulgam district. Security forces 12 Sept killed militant in Rajouri district. Delhi Police Special Cell 14 Sept arrested six men for allegedly planning terror attacks across country, said preparation for attacks conducted in Pakistan and at least two of those arrested received training by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.
Dispute among ruling parties continued to hamper appointment of govt ministers, while opposition Unified Marxist-Leninist party sought to block Nepali Congress-led coalition’s legislative priorities. PM Deuba continued to struggle to balance demands of his ruling partners, with only five ministers appointed since Deuba’s appointment in mid-July. Fearing splits inside Janata Samajbadi party (which is part of Deuba’s ruling coalition), Janata Samajbadi leaders throughout Sept conditioned cabinet expansion on repeal of Deuba’s controversial 18 Aug decree; decree had lowered requirement for members to split from one party and form another, notably allowing Madhav Kumar Nepal’s CPN (Unified Socialist) party to separate from PM KP Oli’s Unified Marxist-Leninist party in Aug. In response to writs filed in Aug, Supreme Court 24 Sept refused to annul Deuba’s Aug decree, potentially clearing path for CPN (Unified Socialist) to join ruling coalition. Meanwhile, parliamentary sessions 8 Sept resumed; Unified Marxist-Leninist party during Sept repeatedly obstructed them in protest against House Speaker Agni Sapkota’s role in party’s breakup, leaving over 50 bills pending approval.
Political tensions persisted amid plans for new govt-controlled central media authority; authorities continued to debate ways to engage with new Afghan govt. Relations between ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and Election Commission deteriorated after commission 7 Sept raised 37 objections to PTI’s proposal to introduce electronic voting machines in next general election, stressed mechanism’s inability to counter all types of fraud; in response, Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry 10 Sept called commission’s logic “strange”, Federal Railways Minister Azam Swati same day accused body of taking bribes to rig election, called for such institutions to be “set on fire”. Journalist unions 11 Sept rejected govt’s proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority, which would be authorised to regulate all media, said it was “unconstitutional”, a step to “muzzle” freedoms. Members of media, lawyers’ groups and human rights activists 13 Sept held protests outside parliament as President Alvi addressed both houses; opposition and independent members boycotted Alvi’s address, vowed to vote against proposed bill; human rights minister next day said law had yet to be given “final shape”, suggesting govt could postpone placing bill before parliament. Regionally, govt had yet to decide if it will recognise newly announced acting Taliban govt (see Afghanistan); FM Qureshi 21 Sept said if Taliban want recognition “they have to be more sensitive and more receptive to international opinion and norms”. PM Imran Khan in 24 Sept virtual UN General Assembly address called on international community to “incentivize”, “strengthen and support” current (Taliban) govt and warned unstable Afghanistan “will again become a safe haven for international terrorists”. Earlier, Qureshi 15 Sept said govt would consider giving amnesty to Pakistan’s Taliban members who renounced violence; opposition leader and Pakistan Peoples’ Party chair Bhutto Zardari 17 Sept said that would be “an insult” to victims. Meanwhile, Pakistani Taliban attacks in regions near Afghan border continued; in South Waziristan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistani Taliban attack 15 Sept killed seven Pakistani soldiers. Militant attack 26 Sept killed one paramilitary soldier and injured two others in Mach town, Balochistan province. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 14 Sept said U.S. would reassess its relationship with Pakistan in coming weeks.
UN Human Rights Council voiced concerns over erosion of rights, while economy continued to face deep strains. UN Human Rights Council 13 Sept began its 48th session where High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet noted “the corrosive impact that militarisation and the lack of accountability continue to have on fundamental rights” in country and urged govt to undertake major reforms, including repealing Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Statement by “Core Group” nations next day said they were “deeply concerned about current human rights developments, in particular increased limitations being put on civic space”. Report to council by special rapporteur on truth and justice debated 16 Sept concluded “the current administration has shown that it is unwilling or unable to make progress in the effective investigation, prosecution, and sanctioning of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law”. In response to criticism, FM G.L. Peiris 14 Sept said govt had made progress in domestic processes for national reconciliation and rejected external initiatives that “will polarize our society”. EU team 27 Sept arrived in capital Colombo for ten-day mission to monitor govt’s compliance with terms of EU’s GSP+ trade concessions; meetings included discussions with govt on recent promises to “review” PTA, as repeal of controversial law was condition for Sri Lanka regaining GSP+ status in 2017. State Minister for Prisons Lohan Ratwatte 15 Sept resigned after news emerged he had threatened to kill Tamil prisoners held under PTA during unplanned and drunken visit to Anuradhapura city on 12 Sept. Country continued to face economic hardship. After President Rajapaksa 31 Aug declared state of emergency in response to food shortages, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa 7 Sept acknowledged “country is facing a serious foreign exchange crisis” as well as growing budget deficits due to huge loss of revenue resulting from COVID-related restrictions. Central Bank Governor W. D. Lakshman 14 Sept resigned and was replaced by Rajapaksa loyalist Ajith Nivard Cabraal, who resigned as state minister of money and capital markets. Govt 17 Sept extended island-wide quarantine and curfew until 1 Oct as numbers of reported cases and deaths remained high during month.
West Papua Liberation Army launched deadliest attack on military this year, while security forces killed East Indonesia Mujahideen militant group leader. In West Papua province, dozens of militants from separatist armed group West Papua Liberation Army 2 Sept attacked military post in Kisor village in Maybrat district, killing four soldiers and injuring two in deadliest attack in region this year; group same day claimed responsibility for attack. Security forces subsequently arrested two suspects and 5 Sept reportedly engaged in gunfight with group in Maybart’s East Aifat sub-district. In Papua province, West Papua National Liberation Army 26 Sept reportedly killed member of Mobile Brigade forces in Kiwirok, Pegunungan Bintang regency, in shootout that injured two others. International rights group TAPOL 16 Sept published report accusing govt of using COVID-19 as pretext to crackdown on Papuan civil society groups and human rights defenders. UN Special Rapporteur on Situation of Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor 20 Sept urged govt to provide adequate medical care to imprisoned pro-independence Papuan activist Victor Yeimo, who was arrested in May 2021, amid reports of his deteriorating health. Separately, security forces 18 Sept killed leader of Islamic State-affiliated East Indonesia Mujahideen militant group and another militant in shootout on Sulawesi island.
While opposition govt declared “people’s defensive war” to depose military dictatorship, announcement failed to lead to sustained escalation in attacks. National Unity Govt (NUG) 7 Sept declared “people’s defensive war” and state of emergency calling on people to rise up against regime. State Administration Council regime 9 Sept accused NUG, Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), People’s Defence Force and some ethnic armed groups of choosing “the terror way” and 12 Sept said NUG declaration aimed “to destabilise the country” to influence 14 Sept UN General Assembly decision on Myanmar’s UN credentials. While declaration did not result in significant escalation, deadly attacks on regime targets have continued. Notably, series of militia ambushes early Sept launched against troops in Magway region’s Gangaw township prompted military to occupy area, which resulted in killing of at least 22 villagers from 9-10 Sept, including teenagers and elderly. Military forces 18-19 Sept clashed with anti-junta militia Chin Defence Force in Thantlang town, Chin State, destroying at least 20 homes and forcing majority of town’s 10,000 residents to flee, including several thousands across border into India; militia reported it had killed 30 govt troops. Throughout Sept, regime also stepped up raids and arrests of people allegedly involved in resistance activity in Yangon and elsewhere. Meanwhile, regime 6 Sept dropped sedition charge against nationalist monk Wirathu, detained for past ten months. SAC 21 Sept tried deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for incitement; Suu Kyi pleaded not guilty, with trial set to continue in Oct. Internationally, Vice Senior General Soe Win 3 Sept held talks with Russian deputy defence minister focused on Russian plans to aid “military technology, education, health and various sectors”. Information Minister Maung Maung Ohn 9 Sept briefed foreign diplomats in Yangon on regime’s narrative of Feb coup, stating Tatmadaw had taken power according to constitution in response to “serious irregularities” in 2020 election. U.S. and China 13 Sept brokered agreement to defer decision on Myanmar’s UN representation until at least Oct-Nov; NUG-affiliated incumbent Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun retained UN credentials on condition he did not speak at high-level General Assembly debate.
Violence persisted at low levels in south, while members of Bangsamoro Transition Authority passed bill to extend transition. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, communal violence remained low, while some clashes between govt and armed groups continued. Notably, three members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) 14 Sept surrendered to military in Datu Unsay municipality, Maguindanao province. Bomb blast 18 Sept killed one and injured eight civilians in Datu Piang town, Maguindanao; authorities attributed attack to BIFF. In Sulu province, four Abu Sayyaf Group members 7 Sept surrendered to military in Talipao town, followed by another two members next day in Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan province. Police supported by military 17 Sept killed alleged Abu Sayyaf financier in firefight during attempted arrest in Luuk town, Sulu province. House of Representatives’ Strategic Intelligence Committee Chairperson Johnny Pimentel 5 Sept announced deployment of additional 4,500 troops to Jolo municipality, Sulu province, to combat armed groups. Bangsamoro Transition Authority Senate 6 Sept and House of Representatives 15 Sept each passed bills extending transition period; both houses 21 Sept convened bicameral conference to reconcile both legislations, with bill submitted to President Duterte for signature on 27 Sept. Security forces continued to clash with communist New People’s Army at similarly lethal levels as Aug in Mindanao island in south, Visayas islands in centre, and Luzon island in north, killing at least 22 and injuring four during month. President Duterte 8 Sept accepted ruling party PDP–Laban’s nomination to run for vice presidency in May 2022 election; Senator Manny Pacquiao 19 Sept accepted nomination from supporters within PDP-Laban to run for presidency and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso 22 Sept also declared candidacy for Aksyon Demokratiko party. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases 11 Sept reached all-time daily high of 26,303.
Australia, UK and U.S. unveiled trilateral defence pact that provoked mixed reactions in region, while Chinese naval forces conducted military exercises. Australia, UK and U.S. 15 Sept announced “enhanced trilateral partnership” dubbed “AUKUS”, which includes key agreement to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines and provisions to cooperate on emerging technologies. Chinese foreign ministry next day said AUKUS would “seriously damage regional peace and stability, exacerbate an arms race and harm international nuclear non-proliferation agreements”. Malaysian PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob in 17 Sept phone call to Australian PM Scott Morrison said agreement could “provoke other powers to act more aggressively, especially within the South China Sea”, while Indonesian foreign ministry same day said it was “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region”. Filipino FM Teodoro Locsin Jr 19 Sept expressed support, saying the “enhancement of a near abroad ally’s ability to project power should restore and keep the balance rather than destabilise it”. Meanwhile, Chinese state media 8 Sept reported its naval forces same day conducted amphibious landing exercise in SCS, 9-10 Sept conducted live-fire exercises in western area of Leizhou Peninsula, and 18 Sept dispatched Y-20 large transport aircraft from mainland to airfields in Spratly Islands to conduct “amphibious landing drills”, marking first time China dispatched large transport aircraft near reefs according to Chinese media. Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi 11 Sept visited Vietnam, reportedly told Vietnamese Deputy PM Phạm Bình Minh that both countries should refrain from exacerbating maritime disputes. German foreign ministry 15 Sept said China had denied request for Shanghai port visit of its frigate embarking on six-month mission to SCS. U.S. Navy Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group returned to SCS 24 Sept for exercises and training. EU 16 Sept released Indo-Pacific strategy urging “cooperation to maintain and ensure maritime security and freedom of navigation”. Joint statement following first in-person leaders’ summit of “Quad” on 24 Sept noted commitment to “freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes” in Indo-Pacific.
PM Prayuth Chan-ocha and govt officials saw off no-confidence vote, while series of protests rocked capital Bangkok, leading to hundreds of arrests. In third such move, opposition 31 Aug-4 Sept challenged PM Prayuth Chan-ocha and five cabinet officials in parliamentary censure debate over issues including pandemic mismanagement and alleged corruption; lawmakers 4 Sept voted to reject no-confidence motion. In Bangkok, anti-govt protests continued throughout Sept with more than 600 arrested since July. Members of Red Shirts movement 2 Sept protested at Asoke intersection, calling for Prayuth’s resignation. United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration and Thalufah group 3 Sept held mass demonstration in Rachaprasong area ahead of no-confidence vote, which thousands attended; Free Youth movement 4 Sept led march through commercial centre ending at Pratunam intersection and hanging banner reading “Reform of Monarchy”. Additional rallies 6, 7 Sept held at Asoke; rallies planned on 8 Sept however called off, citing pending arrest warrants for leaders. Thalugas protesters 6 Sept clashed with police in Din Daeng district. Police next day arrested 18 protesters for damaging state property and protests same day continued amid further clashes with police. Also on 7 Sept, Ramkhamhaeng for Democracy demonstrators protested at Government House and Thalufah protesters rallied at Democracy Monument. Anti-govt protesters 19 Sept gathered at Asoke intersection on anniversary of 2006 coup that ousted then-PM Thaksin Shinawatra; protestors later proceeded to Democracy Monument in mobile rally of over 1,500 vehicles. Six police booths in Bangkok were found vandalised 23 Sept, including four torched. Parliament 10 Sept voted to approve constitutional amendment to adopt two-ballot election system, one for constituency candidate and one for the party list. Meanwhile, in deep south, unidentified gunmen 6 Sept killed Muslim man in Cho Airong district, Narathiwat province. Unidentified attackers 15 Sept attacked two Muslim men in Ruesoh district, Narathiwat province, killing one and wounding another. Drive-by grenade attack at security booth in Panare district, Pattani province, killed one ranger; paramilitary ranger died following grenade attack on his post in Pattani’s Panare district 22 Sept. IED attack 28 Sept killed two police officers and wounded four in Chanae district, Narathiwat province.
Diplomatic and maritime tensions continued between Greece and Turkey. Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar 9 Sept reiterated that Ankara will never accept any Greek move to extend its territorial waters in Aegean Sea, dismissing any possible effort in this direction by Athens as “empty dreams”; Akar also said Ankara was determined to press ahead with efforts to search for energy in eastern Mediterranean, in areas where it believes Ankara and Turkish Cypriots have rights. Turkish President Erdoğan same day complained of Greece’s “maximalist policies” and intentionally raising tensions in Aegean, which Greek officials same day dismissed by retorting that rhetoric was aimed at exerting pressure on Greece for demilitarisation of eastern Aegean islands. Maritime tensions 15-20 Sept rose amid series of Greek announcements of maritime activity and counter-advisories by Turkey. Tensions likely contributed to cancellation of high-level meetings between Greek and Turkish officials at UN General Assembly in New York, U.S., late Sept.
New govt regulations on licence plates triggered protests at Serbian border and escalated tensions with Belgrade. Govt implemented regulation beginning 20 Sept requiring replacement of Serbian licence plates with temporary Kosovo ones when entering Kosovo; govt said move imposes “reciprocity” with measure similar to long-time Serbian practice with Kosovo-registered cars. Rejecting decision, hundreds of Kosovo Serbs 20-21 Sept blocked roads leading to Jarinje and Brnjak border crossings, prompting armed police 20 Sept to deploy to border, where they fired tear gas at blockades. European Commission immediately called on both parties to exercise restraint “without any delay”. Serbian President Vučić 21 Sept held National Security Council meeting to discuss possible economic and political sanctions “if Kosovo does not change its decisions”. Serbian defence ministry 24 Sept said President Vučić gave order to heighten alert for army and police units; Serbian fighter jets 26 Sept flew close to Jarinje border crossing. Police 25 Sept said Serbs set fire to car registration office in Zubin Potok town and threw two hand grenades (which did not explode) at civil registration office in Zvecan town near border crossings in Mitrovica district, northern Kosovo; PM Kurti same day accused Serbia of attempting to “provoke a serious international conflict”. EU and NATO next day called on Kosovo and Serbia to de-escalate situation in northern Kosovo. Meanwhile, Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague, Netherlands, 15 Sept began first case against former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander Salih Mustafa for atrocities committed during Kosovo War.
Inauguration of new head of Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro sparked protests and inflamed political tensions. Hundreds 4 Sept blocked roads in Cetinje city in protest at inauguration of new leader of Montenegrin branch of Serbian Orthodox Church. During day of ceremony, demonstrators 5 Sept clashed with police who fired tear gas, leaving at least 20 officers and 30 protesters wounded and at least 15 arrested. Deputy PM Dritan Abazović same day accused members of opposition Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of using event to “attempt to introduce Montenegro into permanent destabilization with elements of dissolution”. PM Krivokapić 6 Sept launched investigation into police management of protest attacks. After President Milo Đukanović and DPS members of parliament attended Cetinje allegedly to show support to protesters and urge cancellation of ceremony, ruling coalition members of parliament 22 Sept passed resolution demanding Constitutional Court rule whether Đukanović violated constitutional responsibility by promoting protests.
Armenia and Azerbaijan commenced legal proceedings against each other at International Court of Justice (ICJ), while tensions surfaced with Baku over control of regional highway. Armenia 16 Sept instituted proceedings at ICJ, accusing Azerbaijan of violating International Convention on Racial Discrimination through decades of state-sponsored discrimination; Azerbaijani foreign ministry 23 Sept filed case against Armenia on same grounds. Tensions surfaced with Azerbaijan over control of highway. Azerbaijani police 13 Sept installed checkpoint on main border zone highway connecting Iran to South Caucasus and Armenia with its southern regions in violation of agreements on restrictions of movement following Autumn 2020 war; in response, Armenia next day closed highway for Iranian trucks (see Azerbaijan). After Turkish President Erdoğan late Aug declared readiness for gradual normalisation of ties with Yerevan, PM Pashinyan 8 Sept affirmed Armenian willingness to begin discussions. Erdoğan 19 Sept, however, refused to meet Pashinyan at UN General Assembly, insisting Yerevan must first open corridor between Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave; Yerevan 20 Sept reiterated willingness to start meetings, while stating that corridor was not part of Nov 2020 ceasefire statements. Authorities 29 Sept briefly detained former Defence Minister Davit Tonoyan on charges related to investigation into supply of low-quality weapons and ammunition in 2011, which may have been used in 2020 war with Azerbaijan, and court 30 Sept sentenced him to two months’ pre-trial detention; Tonoyan is first senior official in power late last year to face trial in relation to problems that occurred during 2020 fighting.
Tensions with Armenia continued as both sides initiated legal proceedings at International Court of Justice (ICJ) and disputed control of regional highway. Armenia 16 Sept instituted proceedings at ICJ, accusing Azerbaijan of violating International Convention on Racial Discrimination through decades of state-sponsored discrimination; Azerbaijani foreign ministry 23 Sept filed case against Armenia on same grounds. Tensions surfaced with Armenia over control of highway. After Azerbaijani defence ministry 13 Sept lodged protest with Russian defence ministry and peacekeepers about Iranian trucks entering Nagorno-Karabakh, which Azerbaijan insists requires Azerbaijani authorisation, Azerbaijani police 13 Sept installed checkpoint on main border zone highway connecting Iran to South Caucasus and Armenia with its southern regions in violation of agreements signed with Russia on restrictions of movement following Autumn 2020 war; Iranian media reports 15 Sept claimed Azerbaijani police detained two Iranian truck drivers after they allegedly travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh. In response, Armenia next day closed highway for Iranian trucks. Russian foreign ministry same day discussed border issue with Baku, whose officials also met Iranian ambassador to Baku.
Acrimony between opposition and ruling Georgian Dream party surfaced ahead of Oct local elections, raising prospect of disputed results. Country prepared for local elections scheduled for 2 Oct, with opposition members throughout month characterising poll as “referendum” to end nine-year-long rule of Georgian Dream party and voicing concerns over possible voting irregularities. Under EU-U.S. brokered agreement signed in April between opposition and govt, local elections should lead to snap parliamentary elections if Georgian Dream fails to obtain 43% of vote share; ruling party withdrew from deal in July. Meanwhile, opposition media 13 Sept leaked thousands of reports and transcripts of conversations allegedly recorded by Georgian security services containing details of personal and professional lives of dozens of Georgian clerics, prompting launch of investigation by Georgian Prosecutor’s Office; Georgian Church claimed leaks are attempt to discredit clerics. Former senior official Megis Kardava, facing charges of torture, rape and murder, 17 Sept arrived for trial in Georgia after his extradition from Ukraine; Kardava is expected to testify against former Georgian leaders, who are now key opposition figures. De facto authorities of breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia facilitated participation of Russian passport holders in Russian parliamentary elections 17-19 Sept by opening polling stations and encouraging voting; Georgia 20 Sept condemned holding of elections in two breakaway regions.
Low-level clashes continued in conflict zone, while Armenian and Azerbaijani FMs met for first time since Nov 2020. Low-level hostilities reported during month, with occasional shootings along front lines. Notably, Russian peacekeepers 17 Sept released report that two Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) soldiers were wounded in shootings; Deputy Chief of Press Service of Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry Anar Eyvazov 19 Sept denied information and called report “surprising and regrettable”. Further incidents were reported on social media without official confirmation from either side. Azerbaijani and Turkish special forces 6-11 Sept organised first ever training drills in Lachin district located between NK and Armenia. Following Russian mediation, Armenia and Azerbaijan 7 Sept exchanged one Azerbaijani soldier with two Armenian soldiers, all of whom were detained in NK in July-Aug. In first diplomatic contact since Autumn 2020 war, co-chairs of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group 24 Sept facilitated joint meeting between Azerbaijani FM Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian FM Ararat Mirzoyan on sidelines of UN General Assembly session; meeting focused on “wide range of outstanding unresolved issues”, while co-chairs proposed “specific focused measures to deescalate situation”, according to OSCE. Incoming head of Russian peacekeeping mission in NK Lieutenant General Gennady Anashkin 25 Sept met Armenian defence minister and 28 Sept met Azerbaijani defence minister; previous head of mission faced criticism from Baku. Tensions surfaced between Armenia and Azerbaijan over regional highway. Azerbaijani police 13 Sept installed checkpoint on main highway connecting Iran to South Caucasus and Armenia with its southern regions, violating agreements following Autumn 2020 war (see Armenia and Azerbaijan). Armenian and Azerbaijani leadership marked one-year anniversary of start of Autumn 2020 war on 27 Sept amid series of commemorative events held across countries and in NK. Kamo Vardanyan 11 Sept replaced Mikael Arzumanyan as de facto NK defence minister.
Ruling United Russia party maintained constitutional majority in parliamentary elections. Ruling United Russia party won 324 of 450 seats in parliamentary elections held 17-19 Sept, slightly fewer seats than 2016 elections; Communist Party of Russian Federation secured second place by boosting seats from 42 to 57. Controversy surfaced after authorities 20 Sept announced results from electronic voters in capital Moscow, whose votes appeared to swing support from opposition candidates to United Russian candidates, prompting Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov same day to refuse to recognise “unacceptable” final results. Hundreds of Communist supporters 25 Sept rallied in protest of election results in central Moscow, resulting in police detaining 60 activists; smaller rallies were held in other cities. Election also prompted international criticism. EU 20 Sept claimed poll took place “in an atmosphere of intimidation of independent critics”, while EU, U.S., Turkey, UK and Georgia rejected recognition of parliamentary elections held in Crimea territory. Meanwhile, Russian Investigative Committee 28 Sept announced third criminal case against imprisoned opposition figure Alexei Navalny since Jan 2021; Navalny could face new sentence of up to ten years in prison for founding “extremist community”. Chair of Duma Commission for Investigating Foreign Interference Vasily Piskarev 19 Sept proposed to prosecutor general to label over 20 unknown foreign NGOs as undesirable on Russian territory for allegedly attempting “to influence the will of the Russian people”. Russia’s Federal Security Service 17 Sept reported detention in Moscow of two leaders and three members of terrorist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, including Russian, Kyrgyz and Tajik citizens. Authorities 22 Sept detained one Russian and four Tajik citizens allegedly preparing terrorist attacks in Yekaterinburg city, and 25 Sept detained five suspected neo-Nazis in Ufa city who were reportedly preparing attack on law enforcement officers.
Authorities continued sentencing of opposition figures, while Russia boosted its support for govt. Authorities 6 Sept sentenced leading opposition figures Maryya Kalesnikava and Maksim Znak to 11 and ten years’ imprisonment, respectively; rulings prompted strong condemnation from EU, UK, Germany and U.S.. UN Special Rapporteur 7 Sept described “terrible repression” inside country and crackdown on human rights groups had hindered human rights monitoring. 23 international and Belarusian human rights organisations 17 Sept demanded release of members of Viasna human rights centre. President Lukashenka 1 Sept said country would soon receive large quantity of military hardware from Russia. In fifth face-to-face meeting this year, Lukashenka 9 Sept met Russian President Putin in Russian capital Moscow where pair agreed additional loans for Minsk and announced unified gas market. Russian and Belarus military forces 9-16 Sept held large-scale Zapad 2021 military exercises in multiple locations across country. Polish President Duda 2 Sept announced state of emergency in areas close to Belarussian border amid surge in recent months of migrants and asylum seekers; Poland 20 Sept deployed 500 additional troops to border, citing “well-organised action directed from Minsk and Moscow”. Latvian border authorities 8 Sept said over 1,000 people had illegally entered country in past month. During visit to France, opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya 15 Sept urged President Macron to take “decisive action in solving the Belarus crisis”.
Low-level violence continued in Donbas conflict zone, while parliament passed controversial “anti-oligarch” legislation. In Donbas conflict zone, combat killed five Ukrainian govt troops, per military figures, while Ukrainian researchers reported at least five combat deaths among Russian-backed forces during month; Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe corroborated four civilian injuries, all from shelling and all in separatist-held areas; town head in govt-controlled Shchastya reportedly injured in aftermath of 16 Sept mortar attack. Meanwhile, unknown assailant 22 Sept attacked car carrying Serhiy Shefir, aide and long-time business associate of President Zelenskyy, in capital Kyiv, leaving driver injured; Zelenskyy blamed attack on administration’s efforts to reduce public influence of oligarchs. Parliament next day passed Zelenskyy’s law aimed at preventing designated oligarchs from sponsoring political parties or buying privatised assets; some opposition members claimed move aimed at hobbling political rivals such as ex-President Poroshenko. Approximately 150,000 Russian passport holders 17-19 Sept voted in Russian parliamentary elections held in Donbas for first time; Ukraine’s Security and Defenсe Council 17 Sep vowed sanctions against “all involved”. EU 10 Sept prolonged for six months sanctions against 177 individuals and 48 entities “responsible for undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine”. Ambassadors to Ukraine from G7 states 23 Sept issued joint statement noting “concern” and “disappointment” at delays in judicial reform and inadequate efforts to ensure transparent selection of new Constitutional Court judges. At address to UN General Assembly, Zelenskyy 23 Sept criticised UN for failure to appear at Aug 2021 Crimea Platform meeting and urged UN revival through stronger action against countries violating international law.
Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders discussed reigniting talks, while tensions persisted over hydrocarbon exploration. UN Sec-Gen Guterres 27 Sept held meeting with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders during which sides discussed how to overcome stalemate in efforts to relaunch formal settlement talks; Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades subsequently announced that Guterres was considering appointment of special envoy who would search for common ground and work on confidence-building measures within pre-existing UN parameters. After Exxon Mobil/Qatar Petroleum consortium late Aug announced plans to begin work late Nov-early Dec in Republic of Cyprus’ offshore block 10, Turkish VP Fuat Oktay 4 Oct said Turkey would also commence hydrocarbon activities if Greek Cypriots commence drilling in eastern Mediterranean. In letter to Cypriot MEP Niyazi Kızılyürek, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen 7 Sept called on Turkey “to reverse the actions undertaken in Varosha since October 2020”, called 20 July statement from Turkish President Erdoğan and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar to reopen section of Varosha/Maraş, area under Turkish military control since 1974, “an unacceptable unilateral decision” to change status of fenced-off area, also reiterated EU’s commitment to solution based on a bi-zonal bi-communal federation with two sides having political equality. Tatar 10 Sept said he continues to work for recognition of “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”) and reiterated on several occasions during month that only viable solution to overcome deadlock on island is two-state formula based on sovereign equality of two political entities on island. In contrast, Republic of Cyprus President Anastasiades 14 Sept said that he would brief UN Sec-Gen Guterres on his proposal on return to 1960 constitution; proposal envisions “Turkish Cypriots returning to the executive, legislative, judicial authority and the other services of the Republic”.
Authorities reported dwindling number of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants across country, and continued operations against alleged Islamic State supporters. Interior minister 8 Sept claimed number of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in country had dropped below 200 for first time since conflict began, claiming “Turkey has been cleared of terror”; Defence Minister Hulusi Akar same day vowed to continue fight against group with determination “until the last terrorist is neutralised”. Turkey continued operations against PKK in northern Iraq as airstrikes targeted suspected PKK targets throughout month; defence minister 12, 17 and 24 Sept announced death of Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq (see Iraq). Govt continued efforts to delegitimise pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP); police 1 Sept detained more than 50 individuals protesting on World Peace Day in economic capital Istanbul, including HDP members and party officials. Security units continued to carry out operations against Islamic State (ISIS) cells/operatives across country. Notably, police during month detained more than 80 individuals for their alleged links to ISIS, majority of them foreigners (mostly Syrian and Iraqi nationals).
Senior officials met Taliban leadership following group’s takeover of Afghanistan. Deputy chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s Security Council, Taalatbek Masadykov, and head of Foreign Policy Department of Kyrgyz presidential administration, Jeenbek Kulubaev, 23 Sept met acting FM of new Taliban govt, Amir Khan Muttaqi, in Afghan capital Kabul; meeting focused on “bilateral relations and continued cooperation”, according to Taliban.
Authorities continued to express concern about threat to regional security arising from Afghanistan. Dozens of Afghan women 14 Sept rallied outside Afghanistan’s embassy in capital Dushanbe to protest Taliban govt. Border official 22 Sept reportedly confirmed: “We see certain security threats from the other side of the border” in Afghanistan, amid reports that Tajik militants associated with Taliban plan to return to country. In pre-recorded speech at UN General Assembly, President Rahmon 23 Sept warned of “serious threat to regional security and stability” emanating from Afghanistan. Lower chamber of parliament 9 Sept approved bill proposing amnesty for some 16,000 people, including prisoners and those suspected or accused of crimes. Foreign ministry 14 Sept issued verbal protest to U.S. ambassador after U.S. President Biden, who was commenting on U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, said: “If we were in Tajikistan and pulled up a C-130 and said we’re going to let … anybody who was involved with being sympathetic to us to get on the plane, you’d have people hanging in the wheel as well”, potentially implying that many people currently based in Tajikistan would also be desperate to leave country on U.S. airplane; foreign ministry said president’s remarks “do not correspond to the spirit of friendship and partnership”.
President Mirzyoyev confirmed candidacy for Oct presidential election. Ahead of election on 24 Oct, Mirzyoyev 9 Sept accepted nomination by ruling Liberal Democratic Party to seek second five-year term in office. Govt mid-month reportedly began implementing deal reached with U.S. to transfer Afghan pilots and their families, who had fled Afghanistan in Aug, to U.S. military bases in Middle East; foreign ministry 13 Sept confirmed deportation of all Afghan nationals who had flown to Uzbekistan last month.
Govt and main opposition alliance reached limited agreements in Norwegian-facilitated talks, and President Maduro joined regional summit in first trip abroad in many months. Govt and opposition Unitary Platform made progress during second (3-6 Sept) and third (25-27 Sept) rounds of Norwegian-facilitated talks in Mexico City, reaching three partial agreements. First, parties reaffirmed country’s sovereignty over Essequibo region disputed with Guyana and rejected jurisdiction of International Court of Justice. Second, they agreed to set up six-person committee, National Board of Social Care, with three representatives from each side to address humanitarian crisis, including shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, and four-person working group to review problems arising from “overcompliance” with U.S. sanctions. Third, they agreed to begin process of setting up “consultation mechanisms” with “social and political actors” not represented at negotiation table. In move that threatens to stir tensions, govt 14 Sept however said it wished to include in talks businessman Alex Saab who is currently facing extradition from Cape Verde to U.S. on money-laundering charges; opposition delegation and U.S. quickly dismissed proposal. Govt delegation to talks 17 Sept publicly accused opposition of “sabotaging, conditioning and evading” terms agreed for talks; statement accused opposition leader Juan Guaidó of trying to break from his commitment to discuss return of country’s overseas assets, which have been under opposition control since 2019, to govt control. Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab 14 Sept had announced investigation into Guaidó for alleged treason and asset theft in relation to major overseas asset, Colombia-based chemical company Monómeros; opposition party Justice First 27 Sept announced it would no longer participate in Guaidó’s interim govt’s management of foreign assets. In first trip abroad since U.S. accused him of drug trafficking in early 2020, Maduro 18 Sept unexpectedly attended Community of Latin American and Caribbean States summit in Mexico City; Colombia, Uruguay and Paraguay presidents rejected his presence. UN fact-finding mission 16 Sept released new report, alleging country’s justice system does not provide protection to victims, but instead plays “significant role in the state’s repression of government opponents”. EU 29 Sept said it will send observers to regional and municipal elections set for Nov.
Repression against opposition leaders continued ahead of legislative and presidential elections due in Nov. Prosecutor’s Office 8 Sept issued arrest warrant against award-winning novelist Sergio Ramírez on charges of “money laundering”, “incitement to hatred” and “conspiracy” to destabilise country; Ramírez has been living in exile since June. Police 20 Sept arrested sociologist Irving Larios in capital Managua over conspiracy accusations. After authorities 31 Aug-3 Sept for first time allowed families to visit detained opposition and civil society figures in “El Nuevo Chipote” prison in capital Managua, relatives of 19 prisoners 7 Sept denounced mistreatments, including isolation, hunger and lack of medical care. Inter-American Court of Human Rights 9 Sept requested Managua’s authorisation to enter country to assess situation of group of detained opposition and civil society leaders. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet 13 Sept urged govt to cease “persecution of the opposition, the press and civil society”; in joint statement to UN Human Rights Council, 50 countries 14 Sept questioned legitimacy of elections set for 7 Nov. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 15 Sept said Ortega’s govt was taking Nicaragua “down the grim path of authoritarianism”; U.S. govt late Sept pulled its Defense Attache Lt. Col. Roger Antonio Carvajal Santamaria out of Nicaragua after he made comments complimentary of Nicaragua’s military. Meanwhile violence against civil society activists continued to run high. Unidentified gunmen 11 Sept shot and seriously injured Joao Maldonado, political activist and well-known figure of 2018 anti-govt demonstrations, in neighbouring Costa Rica; attack came one day before planned protest against Ortega in Costa Rica’s capital San José. Advocacy group Global Witness 13 Sept said country had highest reported per capita rate of violence against environmental activists in 2020, with 12 killed – rising from five in 2019.
Unprecedented jailbreak from Israeli maximum-security prison prompted Palestinian solidarity protests across Israel, West Bank and Gaza. Six Palestinian prisoners 6 Sept broke out of Israel’s maximum-security Gilboa prison, northern Israel; Israeli security forces immediately launched largest nationwide manhunt in decades, arresting dozens of Palestinians, including minors and families of fugitives. Jailbreak sparked prison riots; notably, Palestinian prisoners belonging to Islamic Jihad 8 Sept set fire to cells in Rimon and Ketziot prisons in southern Israel, and Palestinian prisoners across Israeli jails 17 Sept began hunger strike. In solidarity, around 500 Palestinians 8-9 Sept protested in Jerusalem and across West Bank, including in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and Nablus cities. Palestinians 10 Sept announced “day of rage” in West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Israeli forces same day raided Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound to disperse sit-in protest; Israeli fire severely wounded Palestinian man (who later died) at gates of compound in stabbing attack. Palestinians in West Bank’s Jenin city 19 Sept threw rocks and explosives at Israeli troops. Israeli authorities 10-19 Sept announced rearrest of all six fugitives. Separately, over 500 Israeli settlers and security officers 22 Sept stormed al-Aqsa compound during Jewish holiday Sukkot. In West Bank, Palestinian military court in Ramallah town 27 Sept held first hearing into case of 14 members of security forces charged with June killing of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat; Israeli forces 26 Sept killed four Hamas and one Islamic Jihad member in gun battles in Biddu town; dozens of Israeli settlers 28 Sept assaulted Palestinians in al-Mufkara village in South Hebron Hills, injuring four-year-old. Israeli forces 30 Sept killed Palestinian gunman near Jenin. In Gaza, Israeli troops 2 Sept shot dead one Palestinian as over 1,000 gathered along border in nightly protests against block-ade. Gaza factions 12-13 Sept fired rockets into Israel, prompting Israeli airstrike 13 Sept. Palestinian President Abbas gave Israel one year to withdraw from occupied territory to 1967 borders or Palestine would withdraw recognition of Israel. Israel 3 Sept carried out airstrikes near Damascus (see Syria). Israeli PM Bennett 13 Sept met President al-Sisi in first official Israeli visit to Egypt in over decade.
Parliament approved formation of new govt led by Najib Mikati, ending 13-month period with caretaker authorities. Lebanese leaders 10 Sept agreed on formation of new govt under leadership of PM-designate and billionaire Najib Mikati; appointment ended extended stalemate that had left country without empowered govt since resignation of PM Hassan Diab on 10 Aug 2020 in wake of catastrophic Beirut port explosion. Parliament 20 Sept passed vote of confidence in new govt, with support of 85 out of 117 sitting members of parliament. Following dramatic deterioration in fuel crisis last month, long queues at gas stations and shortages of goods continued throughout month. Hizbollah during month realised its previous commitment to import fuel directly from Iran, in direct violation of U.S. sanctions; first deliveries of fuel reached country 16 Sept, after transiting Syria and crossing border without official knowledge or involvement of Lebanese authorities. Hizbollah-linked and U.S.-sanctioned Amana company distributed diesel fuel for electricity generation to public sector institutions and bakeries across country for free, while charging consumers about 25% below govt-mandated price ceiling. State electricity company 23 Sept said country risked total blackout by end of month as its fuel reserves dwindle. Some 300 protesters in capital Beirut 29 Sept protested govt’s decision two days earlier to suspend enquiry into port explosion. In highest-level contact in decade, govt delegation 3 Sept met Syrian officials in Syrian capital Damascus to discuss importing natural gas for power generation from Egypt through Jordanian and Syrian pipeline network. Israel’s 18 Sept decision to award offshore drilling contract to U.S. corporation Halliburton prompted PM Mikati and FM Abdallah Bou Habib to reiterate Lebanon’s claims over disputed maritime border with Israel; President Michel Aoun so far has refrained from signing amendment that would expand country’s claims to Exclusive Economic Zone by 1430 sq km, potentially affecting Israeli-claimed Karish gas field.
Govt forces struck deal with rebels to end fighting in south west, Russia stepped up attacks in Idlib, and clashes continued between Kurdish and Turkish-backed forces in north east. In Daraa governorate in south west, tensions cooled following months of hostilities after new deal 1 Sept came into force requiring total surrender of rebel weapons, house-by-house search of each Daraa al-Balad neighbourhood by regime forces and mandatory “settlement of status” process for all residents; at least 2,300 people across Daraa governorate struck deals with govt during month. Regime 4-5 Sept resumed shelling, killing three, after deal 3 Sept temporarily collapsed; agreement however held from 6 Sept. Insecurity in Daraa countryside prevailed, with at least 18 reportedly killed by unknown gunmen, regime fire and IED explosions 1-22 Sept. Jordan 27 Sept announced Jaber-Nassib border crossing with Daraa governorate would open 29 Sept. In north west, March 2020 ceasefire held despite reported clashes and artillery shelling throughout month and Russia escalating attacks in Idlib governorate, with increase in airstrikes in Sept. Notably, govt shelling 7-8 Sept reportedly killed five civilians in Idlib city and Jabal al Zawiya area. Attack 11 Sept killed three Turkish soldiers, prompting Ankara 13 Sept to send military reinforcements to Idlib. International coalition airstrike 20 Sept reportedly killed two senior figures of al-Qaeda-affiliated group in eastern Idlib. Russian airstrike 26 Sept reportedly killed at least 11 Turkish-backed militants near Afrin city in Aleppo governorate; Turkish-backed militants reportedly responded by firing guided missile that killed two Syrian regime soldiers. In central desert, Russia continued airstrikes against suspected Islamic State (ISIS) targets. Notably, in Homs governorate, clashes between ISIS and regime-backed forces 7 Sept reportedly killed six pro-regime fighters in al-Sukhnah desert and ISIS attack 18 Sept in Palmyra reportedly killed five others. ISIS same day claimed attack previous day south east of capital Damascus that temporarily suspended energy provision to parts of country. In north east, Turkish-backed forces and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces clashed throughout month in Hasakah province, notably near Tel Tamr. Unattributed rockets 9 Sept hit outskirts of U.S. base in al-Shaddadi. Israeli airstrikes 3 Sept reportedly struck near capital Damascus.
Tehran struck last-minute understanding with UN nuclear watchdog regarding access to surveillance equipment, deferring diplomatic showdown with U.S. and European powers. Iranian nuclear activity continued as indirect U.S.-Iran talks on mutual compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal remained deadlocked, marking three months since last round in June. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) quarterly report 7 Sept noted continued growth in Iranian uranium stockpiles enriched to 20% and 60%, shrinking breakout period to perhaps as little as one month. Concerns over nuclear activity raised prospect during month of possible censure resolution against Tehran by U.S. and/or European signatories of nuclear deal at IAEA Board of Governors’ meeting held mid-Sept; President Raisi 8 Sept warned that “non-constructive actions” at IAEA “naturally disrupt the negotiation process”. Amid flurry in diplomatic activity, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi 11 Sept visited Tehran and secured stop-gap three-point agreement granting agency access to its monitoring equipment, forestalling risk of censure resolution. At IAEA Board of Governors meeting, Grossi 13 Sept nonetheless raised concern over Iran’s cooperation, saying verification and monitoring activities were severely inhibited and Tehran had done little to address probe into past activities at four undeclared sites. IAEA 26 Sept indicated that Iran had denied UN body access at Karaj facility, “contrary to the agreed terms”; Iran’s IAEA representative 27 Sept insisted site was “under security and judicial investigations” to justify exclusion. U.S. Treasury Dept 3 Sept sanctioned four Iranians indicted in July 2021 for plotting kidnapping of U.S.-based journalist. U.S. 17 Sept unveiled tranche of designations against “members of an international network of financial facilitators” linked to Iran’s Islamic Rev-olutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Meanwhile, IRGC fired missiles at targets inside Iraq’s Kurdistan region (see Iraq). Raisi 16-17 Sept attended Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, where he announced Iran would join organisation as full member after receiving observer status in 2005.