Americas: tension in Venezuela to continue to increase
In Venezuela, the opposition has called for further demonstrations to take place in the capital Caracas and across the country’s main urban centres on 7 and 14 September to demand a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro take place in 2016. Pro-government rallies are also planned for the coming week and the risk of violent clashes between rival activists, and between the latter and the security forces will remain high. Police are liable to use tear gas and water cannon to control protesters. All planned rallies should be avoided. Spontaneous bouts of unrest will also remain likely. Social and political tensions are expected to continue to increase at least over the coming weeks as Maduro will remain defiant towards the opposition’s drive to oust him from power. A crackdown on opposition members and journalists should also be expected.
Asia-Pacific: bomb kills 14 in south, more attacks possible
The 2 September bombing in the Philippines’ southern city of Davao could suggest further similar attacks are likely over the coming weeks. The quasi-jihadist bandit group Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the mortar-shell bombing, which killed at least 14 people and injured dozens at a crowded night market. The attack was likely aimed at distracting the military from an offensive against Abu Sayyaf and at embarrassing President Rodrigo Duterte as he visited Davao, his hometown. Although the Davao attack was aimed at maximising casualties rather than causing damage, Philippine jihadists have in the past bombed shopping centres, hotels and transport infrastructure. Southern cities such as Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Cotabato and General Santos face the highest risk, but Manila could also be targeted.
Eurasia: President Karimov, Uzbekistan’s longtime ruler, dies
In Uzbekistan, President Islam Karimov’s death on 2 September means that Uzbekistan faces its first ever transition of power. Karimov had ruled for 27 years, having been appointed head of the Uzbekistani Communist Party before winning the country’s first elections. While the government is believed to be negotiating amongst elites to ensure a smooth transition – with Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev seen as the most likely successor – unrest cannot be ruled out given the unprecedented nature of the transition. Uzbekistan also has a young population, with the average age just over 27 years, and any divisions amongst the elite could have a major impact on the country’s stability.
Europe: failure to form government in Spain pushes country towards third election
On 2 September, Spain’s acting prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, failed to form a minority government as parties outside his proposed Popular Party-Ciudadanos coalition refused to abstain from a confidence vote. While regional elections on 25 September could potentially see Basque and Galician parties back the coalition on a national level if they require the Popular Party’s support to form a regional government in their home regions, the result means it is likely Spaniards will head to the polls on 25 December, the third national election in a year. The traditional dominance of the Popular Party and Socialists has come under threat from the centrist Ciudadanos and far-left Podemos, but the two insurgent parties’ refusal to work with one another has made forming a government all but impossible. The continued inability to form a government may impact FDI and business confidence.
MENA: increased tensions along Turkish border with Syria
Civil unrest in predominantly Kurdish border towns in Syria may increase in the next few days following an altercation between Kurdish residents in Kobani on the Syrian side of the border and Turkish soldiers protecting the border after local residents in Kobani protested against the placement of a cement barrier wall being placed along the border to apparently prevent movement between the two sides. One 17-year-old boy died and at least 40 were injured during the incident on 2 September, and this could spark other incidents in Kobani and further eastwards. There may also be demonstrations in Kurdish areas against Turkey’s ongoing incursion into Syria in support of groups part of the Free Syrian Army. The risk of revenge attacks by Islamic State in Turkey also grows the longer the Turkish armed forces’ presence in Syria continues.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Gupta dealings raise questions over government corruption
Controversy over the Gupta family’s dealings in South Africa is likely to reach a tipping point. Despite their announcement to sell their South African interests by the end of 2016, the Guptas continue to be embroiled in multiple investigations, including over alleged corruption, money laundering and influence over political appointments. Last week, several of South Africa’s largest banks announced they would cut ties with Gupta-owned Oakbay, however the government swiftly called for a judicial review of the move. This has raised questions over the extent of government corruption, likely also to affect investor sentiment. Spending by state-owned companies has also come under the spotlight, as Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan reviews contracts between the Guptas and state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings. Opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have also grown increasingly critical of the family’s ties to the government, calling for greater transparency.